Three storms are spinning in the Atlantic, with one already a hurricane and another one strengthening and forecast to threaten areas battered by Hurricane Irma last week.
Tropical Storm Maria formed Saturday in the western Atlantic Ocean and is expected to be a hurricane by late Monday and a major hurricane by Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center says.
By Sunday morning, Maria was about 460 miles southeast of the Lesser Antilles. The storm is moving toward the Caribbean at 15 mph, according to the center.
“Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria will likely become a hurricane later today,” it said.
The core of Maria was expected to hit the Leeward Islands in 48 to 72 hours, and then move toward Puerto Rico in four days then on toward eastern Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) in about five days, the NHC said.
That means areas devastated by Irma could again be dealing with hurricane conditions by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Hurricane watches have been issued for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Dominica and Anguilla. Tropical storm watches are posted for St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Maria is expected to strengthen and affect portions of the Leeward Islands as a hurricane early next week, bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards,” the NHC said. “Maria could also affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid week as a dangerous major hurricane, and hurricane watches could be issued for these islands as early as tonight.”
The center warned that hurricane conditions were possible in the hurricane watch area by Tuesday and that Maria could bring “a dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves.”
Maria was also expected to bring heavy rain to areas of the Leeward and Windward Islands through Wednesday night, it said, with the potential to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Swells generated by Maria were expected to begin affecting the Lesser Antilles, likely bringing life-threatening surf and rip conditions by Sunday night, the center said.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose, a Category 1 storm, is spinning about 420 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and 435 miles southwest of Bermuda.
Jose currently has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and is expected to remain a hurricane through Monday night, the Hurricane Center said.
Areas of the east coast of the United States from North Carolina to New England should monitor the storm’s progress, it said, with tropical storm watches possible during the next day or two.
“While Jose is currently forecast to remain offshore of the US coast from Virginia northward to New England, the large cyclone could cause some direct impacts to these areas and any deviation to the left of the NHC forecast track would increase the likelihood and magnitude of those impacts,” the hurricane center said.
Swells generated by Jose were affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the northern coasts of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and much of the US east coast, it said. Dangerous surf and rip currents are likely for the next several days.
Tropical Storm Lee
There’s also Tropical Storm Lee, which formed earlier Saturday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
Lee is spinning about 790 miles southwest of Cape Verde off northwest Africa and packing maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Lee is weakening and is expected to weaken into a depression Tuesday, the center said. No land warnings have been issued.