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 then Lee could end up going farther to the west – potentially resulting in a direct impact somewhere along the US east coast. If the trough over the Ohio Valley/eastern US comes in stronger or quicker, it could help steer Lee to the north and northeast – before it ever reaches the US east coast.
Current model forecast projections tend to favor a curving of Lee to the north – before it ever reaches the US east coast. However, there are some recent signs that point to an intensification of the ridge over SE Canada/NW Atlantic that raises a cautionary red flag about a possible trek of Lee farther to the west. Two recent examples of hurricanes that were projected to curve away from the US east coast at this vantage point – and ultimately did not – include Florence in 2018 which ended up pounding away at the Carolinas with tremendous amounts of rainfall and Irma in 2017 which eventually significantly impacted places as far to the south and west as Key West, Florida.
For now, all interests along the US east and Gulf coasts (and in the Bahamas) should keep a close eye on Lee as it continues on a “long track” across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and likely reaches “major” hurricane status…perhaps even a “cat 5”. One final note, there is a trailing tropical wave over the far eastern Atlantic and it is quite likely to also reach named tropical storm status in coming days (would be named Margot).
Meteorologist Paul Dorian
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