Hurricane Lee is a slow-moving storm with a massive wind field •

Hurricane Lee is a slow-moving storm with a massive wind field

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory  features Hurricane Lee as it moved west across the Atlantic Ocean on September 12, 2023.

“The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16) acquired this image of the major storm at approximately 1 p.m. Eastern Time (17:00 UTC) as it advanced toward the southeastern United States,” said NASA.

“Around this time, the center of the hurricane was located about 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Bermuda and moving at 6 miles (9 kilometers) per hour. Sustained winds were measured at 115 miles (185 kilometers) per hour, making it a category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.”

According to NASA, Hurricane Lee fluctuated dramatically in strength along its path. Lee was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour on Thursday. Just 24 hours later, the storm had strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of 165 miles per hour.

“Only Hurricane Felix in 2007 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005 intensified more over a 24-hour period. Following this ramp-up, moderate to strong wind shear disrupted the storm’s circulation and weakened it to a category 2,” said NASA.

“That would not be the last momentum swing, however. On September 10, Hurricane Lee began to regain strength as wind shear abated and it passed over very warm waters.”

“High sea surface temperatures are among the conditions favorable to hurricane intensification. And 2023 has been a banner year for warm oceans. Decades of gradual warming due to climate change, along with El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean, helped drive global sea surface temperatures into record territory for several months in the summer.”

Hurricane Lee is expected to make landfall over the northeastern U.S. or Nova Scotia as a Category 2 storm later this week. However, the coastal impacts of the storm could be severe and widespread due to the storm’s massive size and slow movement. 

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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