Tropical Storm Maria is forecast to intensify into a hurricane soon and could pose a major threat to the Lesser Antilles, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this week, including some of the same areas that were hard hit by Hurricane Irma.
Tropical Storm Maria is currently located just over 400 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and is moving west-northwest at 15 mph.
Atmospheric conditions are favorable for Maria to strengthen, and it could become a hurricane as early as Sunday. Maria could then grow into a dangerous major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) as it passes through the northeast Caribbean Islands by midweek due to a combination of low wind shear, a moist atmosphere and warm ocean temperatures.
It’s too early to know whether Maria will pose a threat to the United States, but it will be monitored closely for many days to come.
Hurricane watches have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla. Hurricane conditions are possible in those areas on Monday night or Tuesday.
Tropical storm watches have been posted for portions of the Lesser Antilles including, St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Tropical storm conditions are possible starting on Monday.
Leeward Islands Impacts
Conditions are likely to deteriorate starting Monday in the Leeward Islands with hurricanes conditions possible through Tuesday. This includes locations in the northern Leeward Islands that were devastated by Hurricane Irma.
The strength of the winds in any one location will be determined by how much Maria intensifies and the exact path it moves along through the northern Leeward Islands.
Rainfall totals of 6 to 12 inches are possible in the central and southern Leeward Island through Tuesday night, with locally up to 20 inches in some spots. In the northern Leeward Islands, 2 to 4 inches of rain are likely, with isolated spots receiving 8 inches.
A storm surge of 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels is expected in the hurricane watch area.
High surf and dangerous rip currents are also expected by Sunday night in the Lesser Antilles.
The approximate Closest Point of Approach (CPA) is located near 16.9N, 63.7W or about 90.6 miles (145.8 km) from St. Maarten/St. Martin. The estimated time of when the center of the storm will be at that location is Wednesday, September 20 at 2:06AM AST. Info from www.stormcarib.com.