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Storm forecast to be near hurricane strength upon landfall in Canada

The SS Acadia sits in the Halifax Harbour with Georges Island in the distance at high tide in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.Kelly Clark/Associated Press

BELFAST, Maine - Winds and rain from post-tropical storm Lee lashed parts of the northern Atlantic coast on Saturday, leaving eastern Maine, southwestern Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick bracing for the afternoon’s impacts as the storm’s center moved swiftly toward landfall.

While not technically a hurricane, Lee was expected to be near hurricane strength upon making landfall in Canada, the National Hurricane Center said in a 2 p.m. update. The storm was delivering hurricane-force winds, coastal flooding and heavy rainfall to parts of far northeast New England and adjacent maritime Canada.

The storm, still packing winds of 80 mph, transitioned into a post-tropical storm Saturday morning. Though its effects were letting up in parts of southern New England, the worst looked yet to come farther north, particularly in the Canadian zones, where a hurricane watch remained in effect.


In Belfast, a coastal Maine city, power transformers were heard booming as the storm felled trees, cutting internet and power. Belfast Bay's stormy gray waters lurched under fast-moving clouds. The surf was high, with some whitecaps forming in Belfast Harbor and Penobscot Bay. Local authorities urged residents to stay home.

Across Maine, more than 94,500 customers were without power by Saturday afternoon, according to

By late Saturday morning, Nova Scotia had seen downed trees and power lines and poor road conditions in some areas, with government officials asking people to stay off the roads. In Halifax, police told people to stop driving to the coast to watch the waves, as videos on X showed debris, flooding and crashing waves in some places. All flights at Halifax Stanfield International Airport were grounded.

President Biden on Saturday approved an emergency declaration for Massachusetts, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate any disaster-relief efforts. He approved an emergency declaration for Maine on Thursday.


Maine was seeing "very windy" conditions over the waters off its coast and a dangerous high surf, its National Weather Service office reported on X late Saturday morning. Wind gusts were expected to remain within tropical-storm force through 4 p.m. In Boston, meteorologists reported tropical storm-force wind gusts on Saturday in coastal areas.

After 11 a.m., the tropical storm warning ended for the area from Westport, R.I. to Portsmouth, N.H., including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. In Southern New England, the storm's effects were lightening, as "some peeks of sun" were forecast to mingle with light rain and "a gusty breeze" in the afternoon, the National Weather Service in Boston said just after 12 p.m.

As of 2 p.m. Eastern time Saturday, the storm's center was located about 80 miles east-southeast of Eastport, Maine, and about 150 miles west-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It continued moving north at 22 mph.

Lee was forecast to make landfall near the U.S.-Canada border Saturday afternoon, with southwest Nova Scotia expecting a landfall midafternoon. The storm was predicted to then move northeast across Atlantic Canada in the evening and on Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Rain: A few rain showers were pinwheeling south across eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and western Maine. Downeast Maine had a more solid slug of moderate rainfall, with between 1½ and 2 inches falling by 11 a.m. in a couple of spots. Up to four inches were forecast for Eastport and nearby by Saturday night. "We are a long way from being done," the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine, said on X. Outer Cape Cod might see up to an inch before the rain concludes Saturday evening. Otherwise, amounts drop off rapidly moving inland from the coast. Parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick could see up to 3 inches.


Wind: By 2 p.m., the highest winds were near 70 mph, though stronger gusts had been measured in some spots, including one gust of 93 mph reported on Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. Earlier, gusts of 60 to 65 mph were recorded in Nova Scotia, with some up to 51 mph in Nantucket and 40 mph on Cape Cod. Farther south, winds will subside throughout the day.

Coastal flooding: Within the hardest-hit areas in Canada, a dangerous storm surge was expected to produce flooding, the National Hurricane Center said. Near the coast, the storm will produce “large and destructive waves.”