BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday September 16, 2017 – Within hours of Tropical Storm Lee forming this morning, Tropical Storm Maria has developed, with forecasters warning it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by the time it passes near the Leeward Islands early next week, affecting some of the islands still bruised from Hurricane Irma’s beating .
More Caribbean islands are under watches and warnings as a result.
As of 5 p.m., a hurricane watch was in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for St Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said additional watches will likely be issued tonight and tomorrow.
Tropical Storm Maria was located about 620 miles east southeast of the Lesser Antilles and moving quickly westward at 20 miles per hour.
“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 warned.
“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 Sunday. Interests in these areas should monitor the progress of Maria and follow any advice given by local officials.”
Maria is coming on the heels of the Category 5 Hurricane Irma which devastated some islands in the northern Caribbean, including Barbuda, which is under hurricane watch. Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the French-Dutch nation of Saint Martin were the hardest hit along with Barbuda.
Tropical Storm Lee, meantime, is not anticipated to pose much of a threat.
In fact, the NHC says the storm which is about 720 miles west southwest of the Cabe Verde Islands and moving toward the west at 10 miles per hour, and has maximum sustained winds near 40 miles per hour, is projected to weaken to a remnant low next week.
“Some slight strengthening is possible during the next day or so, but continued north-northwesterly shear is likely to prevent significant intensification. Weakening is anticipated from 48 hours onward due to increasingly hostile shear, and Lee is likely to become a depression by day three and degenerate into a remnant low by day five,” it said.
And Hurricane Jose, which changed direction last weekend to save the northern Leeward Islands another hit days after Hurricane Irma, is continuing on its way northward with 80 mile-per-hour winds.
At 5 p.m. it was about 485 miles west southwest of Bermuda and 485 miles south southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Swells generated by Jose are still affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the northern coasts of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and much of the US east coast.