NEWS: Hurricane Lee barrels toward New England, forcing fishermen to flee rough seas
Hurricane Lee was barreling towards New England and eastern Canada as a powerful Category 1 storm early Saturday, forcing fishermen to flee from its path and retreat back to their harbors.
Lee was packing 80 mph winds and creating 20-feet ocean swells in the northern Atlantic as it churned up the coast, where it’s supposed to weaken slightly to a tropical storm before smashing into Nova Scotia sometime Saturday afternoon.
The sprawling storm is forecast to be more than 400 miles wide when it makes landfall, with winds still topping 40-65 mph and heavy rains that are likely to cause power outages and coastal flooding, according to forecasters.
In popular fishing and tourist town Bar Harbor, Maine, only two lobster boats remained in the water on Friday compared to the two dozen typically seen in normal conditions.
“There’s going to be huge white rollers coming in on top of 50 to 60 mph winds. It’ll be quite entertaining,” Lobsterman Bruce Young, who had his 38-foot boat moved to the local airport, told the Associated Press.
On Long Island, commercial lobster fisherman Steve Train had just finished hauling 200 traps out of the water. He said he planned to wait out the storm on an island in Casco Bay, but was not concerned about his safety.
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey and Maine Gov. Janet Mills have both declared a state of emergency and asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to issue a pre-disaster emergency declaration.
Lee will arrive just days after thunderstorms caused heavy flooding and tornadoes in New England, saturating the soil.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, severe weather is not to be taken lightly. Flooding, wind damage, downed trees, tree limbs — all these things create real hazards and problems for people,” Healey said.
In Maine, the most heavily forested state, officials are also concerned about power outages.
Utility workers from as far away as Tennessee were preparing to deploy to New England on Friday.
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was meeting with an incident response group ahead of the storm’s landfall on Friday.
Hurricanes rarely reach this far north in the Atlantic.
The last storm to make landfall in New England as a hurricane was Bob in 1991, which caused widespread damage across Cape Cod before turning northward toward Maine.