Leslie will pass just east of Bermuda this weekend with rough surf and seas, gusty squalls of rain and possible coastal overwash.
Leslie is forecast to gain strength and forward speed aiming east of the islands late Saturday night into Sunday.
After spending a couple of days as a minimal hurricane, Leslie weakened to a tropical storm Friday midday.
On Saturday morning, the storm was still centered hundreds of miles southeast of the island and continued to move slowly northward. While remaining largely disorganized on satellite imagery, Leslie will be in an environment favorable for strengthening over the next 24 hours.
Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, head of the AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center expects Leslie to pick up forward speed over and strength over the weekend.
"We expect high pressure to its north to weaken and move out of the way, while a developing trough of low pressure over the southeastern United States will scoop up Leslie," Kottlowski said.
How quickly this occurs will play a role in how soon Leslie regains strength, accelerates and how close the system tracks to Bermuda.
Leslie is a rather large storm and tropical storm force gusts will likely extend out a couple of hundred miles from the center. As Leslie begins that northward track, squalls and outer rain bands will begin to affect the island today.
People traveling to the islands around this weekend should be prepared for possible flight delays and/or cancellations and alterations to cruise itineraries.
The harbors of St. George's and Hamilton are well protected from most angles of an approaching storm. Rooftop rainwater is captured and stored for use on the island nation. (Photo of St. George's Harbor by Lori J.)
While most structures on Bermuda are well-fortified, there is the potential for significant beach erosion and minor property damage. Depending on the amount of rain and wave action, there is also the potential for some cliffside erosion.
Building surf was already noticeable on south and southeastern facing beaches of the islands early this week. As Leslie moves closer and eventually strengthens, surf can get very rough rather quickly.
Since Bermuda lies in deep water and not along a continental shelf, there will be no appreciable storm surge. However, there will be pounding waves on the beaches and rocky coasts as the system approaches and passes by. The surf will get very rough with strong and frequent rip currents.
While tropical storm-force winds are expected to arrive close to midday on Sunday, Leslie's more eastward track will prevent Bermuda from seeing the worst.
"A track east of the islands, now appearing to be more likely, will have less intense winds, waves and rain, than a track just to the west of the islands," Kottlowski stated.
This has to do with the counterclockwise circulation of the storm. The strongest winds and greatest wave action on a northward-moving hurricane are on its eastern flank in the eye wall.
Because of Leslie's weaker state and forecast east track, impacts on Bermuda should not be as severe as that of Hurricane Fabian during September of 2003.
**During Wednesday, Leslie was producing 18-foot seas and 45-mph wind gusts about 150 miles north of its center. During Thursday, 27-foot seas were occurring with winds gusting to 63 mph, about 90 miles, north of its center. During Friday, seas increased to 30 feet about 80 miles northwest of its center.**
"Leslie has been experiencing wind shear, which caused the lower part of the storm to be off-center from the upper part of the storm," Kottlowski said, "Also, since Leslie stalled, it is churning up cool water from the depths and depriving itself of warmth from the ocean."
With less wind shear and warmer waters out ahead of the system, Leslie is expected to re-gain hurricane strength by Saturday night.
Interests in Bermuda should closely monitor the track and strength of Leslie.
This story was originally published on Wednesday, Sept 5, 2012, and has been updated.
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