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(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Lee, a Category 1 storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean, is bringing dangerous rip currents to the East Coast before heading to New England, where a hurricane watch is in effect.

The winds and rain will reach Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine by the weekend.

Latest headlines:
-Lee now a Category 1 hurricane
-New Jersey beach town to fine those who go into dangerous surf
-Onboard with hurricane hunters as they fly into the center of Lee

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Sep 14, 5:55 PM EDT
Maine governor declares state of emergency

Maine Gov. Janet Mills declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Lee.

Mills also requested that President Joe Biden issue a preemptive Presidential Emergency Disaster to help facilitate federal resources and funds.

"We continue to strongly urge Maine people – particularly those Downeast – to exercise caution and to take steps to ensure they have what they need to stay safe as the storm draws closer," Mills said in a statement.

Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant, two utilities that operate in the state, are preparing for possible power outages and will be monitoring the grid closely, according to the governor.

Sep 14, 5:45 PM EDT
Tropical storm warnings extended along New England coast

The center of Hurricane Lee is currently about a couple hundred miles west of Bermuda, where a wind gust of 52 mph was reported, and 665 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, according to the latest tracking update.

Lee remains a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 85 mph.

A tropical storm warning has been extended up the New England coast and now covers areas from Massachusetts to Maine.

A tropical storm watch along the Rhode Island coast and a storm surge watch for Nantucket have been canceled, officials said.

A hurricane watch remains in effect for portions of the coast of Maine and into Nova Scotia.

-ABC News' Daniel Peck

Sep 14, 2:36 PM EDT
What to expect in New England

Hurricane Lee, now a Category 1 storm, is gradually weakening as it churns north through the Atlantic Ocean.

Lee is now about 710 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and is bringing rain and gusty winds to Bermuda.

Over the next two days, Lee will continue to weaken, but will pick up speed as it moves north, parallel to the East Coast.

The rough surf, big waves and dangerous rip currents will persist across a large swath of East Coast beaches through Saturday.

The latest forecast shows Lee's strongest winds staying offshore, so any notable wind impacts will be confined to areas right along the coast.

Rain could start along the New England coast Friday night into Saturday morning. Major flooding is not expected.

The majority of any rain or wind impacts for southeastern New England will be Saturday morning through early Saturday afternoon.

By Saturday evening, rain and winds will be slamming Maine. But most, if not all, impacts from Lee will be over in Maine by mid-morning on Sunday.

A hurricane watch is in effect for portions of the coast of Maine and into Nova Scotia, however, this could be canceled given the diminishing likelihood of any hurricane-force winds on land.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Sep 14, 12:03 PM EDT
Lee now a Category 1 hurricane

Lee, currently a Category 1 hurricane, is pounding Bermuda with tropical storm-force winds.

Lee, now located about 750 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, will soon move north. A tropical storm warning has been issued for eastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Gusty winds will begin in New England on Friday night and will last through the day on Saturday.

These strong winds will force up to 4 feet of water to pile up along the coasts of Long Island, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Maine.

Lee is forecast to weaken to a post-tropical storm by the time it makes landfall Saturday night in Canada, around Nova Scotia or western New Brunswick. Two to four inches of rain is possible in eastern Maine and into Canada.

ABC News' Max Golembo

Sep 14, 10:18 AM EDT
New Jersey beach town to fine those who go into dangerous surf

As the summer comes to an end, Hurricane Lee is bringing high surf and dangerous rip currents to beaches up and down the East Coast.

In Seaside Heights, New Jersey, beachgoers who go into the ocean without lifeguards present or in unsafe conditions this week could face a fine up to $1,250, city officials warned Thursday.

"STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE," city officials posted on Facebook.

Click here for what you need to know to stay safe from rip currents.

Sep 14, 9:12 AM EDT
Onboard with hurricane hunters as they fly into the center of Lee

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee traveled with NOAA researchers as they flew into the center of Hurricane Lee to gather data on the storm.

Sep 14, 9:00 AM EDT
Lee's latest forecast

Lee, now a Category 2 hurricane, is bringing huge waves -- up to 12 feet -- to the entire East Coast.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda where Lee will drop gusty winds and heavy rain on Thursday.

By Friday, Lee will move away from Bermuda and begin to impact New England, where a hurricane watch was issued for Maine.

Powerful winds up to 60 mph could reach Cape Cod, Massachusetts, by Friday night.

On Saturday, the winds and rain will spread into the rest of New England. Boston could see winds up to 60 mph on Saturday morning.

The heaviest rain -- 1 to 3 inches -- will be from Cape Cod to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Landfall is expected Saturday night in Canada, either in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, near the Maine border. Lee at that point will have weakened to an extra-tropical storm system, but the strong winds will continue for Maine and Canada through Sunday morning.

ABC News' Max Golembo

Sep 14, 6:07 AM EDT
What to know

There's an increasing likelihood that Hurricane Lee will bring wind, rain and flooding to coastal New England on Friday and into the weekend.

Lee is forecast to still be hurricane-strength by the time it passes east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on Saturday morning.

Lee could bring strong, gusty winds from Rhode Island to Boston to Maine. The heaviest rain, wind and storm surge will be from Cape Cod to Bar Harbor, Maine, from Friday night through Saturday.

Up to 4 feet of storm surge is possible on Cape Cod and Nantucket.

Hurricane conditions are possible in eastern Maine.

Early Sunday morning, Lee may make landfall between coastal Maine and Nova Scotia as a post-tropical storm. Then Lee will head out to sea.

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