NEW BEDFORD — With Category 3 Hurricane Lee bringing a possible threat to New England this weekend, South Coast officials are already preparing for the upcoming storm.

Mattapoisett’s harbor master has advised people to remove their boats from the harbor ahead of the impending hurricane, according to town administrator Mike Lorenco.

Fairhaven has emailed residents on the south end of town, reminding them to pick up hurricane passes, says Todd Correia, the fire chief. He added that his team is preparing to deploy a shelter trailer to Elizabeth Hastings Middle School on Thursday. 

That said, both local leaders said Tuesday that it was too early to begin full preparations for the storm, given that they haven’t yet received the final forecast from the National Hurricane Center. “We really have to wait to see what the weatherman tells us,” Lorenco said.

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For now, they’re monitoring Lee’s path. “At this point, we’re not anticipating any major impacts,” Correia said. 

As of Tuesday, some projections for Lee show that its west side could come near Massachusetts this weekend. 

The National Hurricane Center currently predicts that Lee — 535 miles south of Bermuda as of Tuesday afternoon — will start moving northward up the East Coast within the next day or two. The heart of the storm is currently projected to make landfall in Nova Scotia by Saturday morning. 

The storm’s eye is likely to pass Massachusetts east of Cape Cod, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration models posted late Tuesday afternoon. Hazardous storm conditions can occur outside of the storm center’s projected path.  

An updated forecast for Hurricane Lee is set to come on Wednesday or Thursday. As of Tuesday morning, the storm was spinning its way north of Puerto Rico at a sustained wind speed of 115 mph, bringing strong winds and 15-foot waves to the northeast Caribbean. This storm is generating wind speeds that can cause major damage to high-rises and industrial structures, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

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Whether Hurricane Lee hits the South Coast or not, local meteorologists say residents should expect tropical storm-force winds, dangerous rip currents, and rainy conditions starting Friday morning.

Bill Leatham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Boston office, said that as Hurricane Lee moves up the East Coast offshore, the area affected by high-speed winds is expected to expand. 

The likelihood of the South Coast experiencing winds of 39 to 73 mph in the next five days is around 10% to 30% as of Tuesday. Leatham noted that his team is closely monitoring the track of the storm, which could affect the intensity of wind gusts, rip currents, and rains in the region. 

The National Weather Service has issued a high rip current risk advisory and high surf advisory for all south-facing beaches in New England — from the Connecticut-Rhode Island border to outer Cape Cod — as swells grow stronger from Lee. Leatham said these warnings are in effect from Wednesday until Thursday, and may continue into the weekend. 

Rip currents are fast-moving channels of water flowing away from the shore that can pull swimmers into deeper water. 


Leatham said that the impacts from the hurricane to the South Coast may start as soon as 8 p.m. Friday, or 8 a.m. Saturday. They may last through the weekend. 

There were no coastal storm watches or warnings in effect for the U.S. or Canada as of Tuesday afternoon, nor any hurricane advisories from the Coast Guard targeting the Northeast. 

New Bedford “is closely monitoring Hurricane Lee,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “While it is too soon to determine whether the storm will affect our area, city departments have already begun planning and preparing for possible impacts out of an abundance of caution. I encourage residents to monitor local media over the next several days as the path and intensity of the storm becomes more clear.”

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