Over Labor Day weekend, social media feeds are flooded with dire warnings about a major storm hitting the US East Coast next week. That hypothetical storm became Tropical Storm Lee on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Although the storm was approaching hurricane strength early Wednesday morning, it is too early to tell if a major hurricane will make landfall on the Eastern Seaboard.
(Tropical disturbances with winds of 39 mph get a name. Once winds reach 74 mph, a storm becomes a hurricane, and at 111 mph it becomes a major hurricane.)
By early Wednesday morning, Lee was more than 1,200 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean, the hurricane center said. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving west-northwest at 14 mph.
It is forecast to become a cyclone later on Wednesday and strengthen to become a major cyclone in a couple of days. Computer models run over the weekend predicted the storm would hit the U.S. East Coast as a hurricane, with some social media users dismayed before it strengthened enough to be named.
As Lee is forecast to make landfall on Friday, dangerous surf conditions generated by the storm are expected to affect parts of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean.
Some of the biggest hurricanes to hit the East Coast An unnamed hurricane that hit Long Island in 1938Or Hugo, it is Caused a landslide in South Carolina In 1989, it began far from land in a lee-like region of the mid-Atlantic. While it may eventually make landfall on the East Coast, it is likely to remain offshore and away from the US.
Social media posts about avoiding a hypothetical storm landfall are not usually shared as much as a picture of a forecast model showing a major storm 14 days after it hits a major U.S. city. That’s why terrible posts like warning “Terrible conditions on the East Coast of the United States,” took off last weekend.
For now, there are many unknowns and many things that could change before the storm approaches North America. It looks like it will be a major storm and will move west before turning north and northeast. The question is when will it turn around?
It all has to do with the turning current, which computer forecast models from Tuesday morning indicated an earlier turn to the north and northeast. That puts Bermuda at greater risk than the United States or Canada. More data will be collected this week and more will be learned as that data is incorporated into computer models.
Although the storm will not make direct landfall anywhere, it is likely to produce large waves along the US East Coast next week. This storm is worth keeping an eye on, but there’s no need to worry about it.