Tens of thousands in New England and Canada remained without power on Sunday morning after the deadly storm Lee struck Nova Scotia on Saturday afternoon as a post-tropical cyclone.
In Nova Scotia, nearly 100,000 customers were without power, according to PowerOutage.com. The US state of Maine was dealing with about 40,000 outages as of Sunday morning, and New Brunswick had about 12,000, the website also said.
Lee – which caused at least one death, involving a man whose car was battered by a falling tree – continues to pack maximum sustained winds of 45mph (72km/h) in some areas of Canada’s Atlantic coast, the US’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Authorities warned that road conditions remained precarious in some regions, including hazards such as felled trees and power lines, the CBC said.
As Lee crawls north-east at 22mph (35km/h), away from Canada’s Maritime provinces, meteorologists are keeping a close watch on other tempests in the Atlantic, including Tropical Storm Nigel. This storm is poised to reach “major hurricane status”, meaning category 3 or higher with winds topping 111mph (179km/h), Accuweather.com said.
Experts said there is a “high risk” that Nigel will still strengthen as it passes across the central Atlantic, over water that hadn’t been disrupted and cooled by Lee.
“The factors driving the potential for strengthening as the system moves along are very high ocean water temperatures and light winds higher up in the atmosphere, known as wind shear to meteorologists,” said Bill Deger, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
Meteorologists said that present predictions put Nigel moving north and then north-east, likely preventing it from directly affecting Bermuda. But “the storm could bring rough surf and rip currents to Bermuda as it passes by to the east of the islands during the middle of the week,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty explained.
The chances of Nigel barreling toward the US has “decreased significantly” this weekend, however. Tropical Storm Margot, which was downgraded from hurricane status, “may not last much longer”, the NHC said this morning.
Lee, which at one juncture had reached the top intensity classification for hurricanes, category 5, walloped the US Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas before it began heading north.
Ruinous hurricanes remain uncommon this far north. One notable exception was the great New England hurricane in 1938, which featured winds reaching 186mph (300km/h), with sustained gusts of 121mph (195km/h), at Massachusetts’ Blue Hill observatory.
Weather experts have called the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season unparalleled. Uncommonly warm sea surface temperatures this summer – spurred by the global climate crisis – have proven rich breeding grounds for tropical storms and hurricanes.
The Associated Press contributed reporting. This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly