Early next week, the west-to-northwest track of Lee could begin to change to more of a northerly direction. Interestingly, this change in direction and climb to higher latitudes could actually result in Lee moving over a “cold wake” left behind by the passage of Hurricane Franklin last week (upwelling) and this could act to weaken the storm. The potential turning of Lee would be the result of a change in steering currents from the influence of the upper-level ridge (WNW direction) to the influence of an incoming trough of low pressure (N direction). The timing of this potential turning of Lee is somewhat uncertain and what happens at a potential “turning point” can have big implications downstream.
The two big players in the upper atmosphere that can ultimately dictate where Lee will move include a trough of low pressure that is likely to form over the Ohio Valley/eastern US later next week and a ridge of high pressure that may develop over southeastern Canada/NW Atlantic. If the ridge over SE Canada/NW Atlantic becomes the dominating system and the upper-level trough weakens or stalls then Lee could end up going farther to the west – potentially resulting in a direct impact somewhere along the Northeast US coastline. On the other hand, if the trough over the Ohio Valley/eastern US comes in stronger or quicker, it could help steer Lee to the north and then northeast – before it ever has a chance to reach the US east coast and current model projections generally favor this (more desirable) solution.
For now, all interests along the Northeast US coastline should keep a close eye on Hurricane Lee as it continues on a “long track” across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and reaches “major” hurricane status…perhaps even strengthening to “category 5”. One final note, there is a trailing tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic and it is quite likely to also reach hurricane status in coming days (would be named Margot).
Meteorologist Paul Dorian
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