8 am MONDAY SEPT 25TH UPDATE:
Hurricane Maria continues to weaken this morning as the storm is undergoing major changes in structure as it encounters the cool water left by Hurricane Jose. Maria is roughly 370 miles to the east southeast of Myrtle beach and is moving north at 7mph. Sustain winds are near 80mph. Maria is expected to come 180miles east of the Outer Banks of NC. Tropical Storm warnings have been issued for Eastern NC coast and the Outer Banks. Maria is not expected to make landfall but will have some tropical storm conditions for parts of NC. Maria will remain nearly 250-300miles east of Myrtle beach but we will still have some indirect impacts including High Surf Advisory for 5-8 ft surf and dangerous Rip current threat.
11 am SUNDAY SEPT 24TH UPDATE:
There has been a shift to the west in Hurricane Maria’s forecast track getting closer to the NC coast by Wednesday. As of 11am Sunday Hurricane Maria weakens slightly,with winds near 105 mph, still a Cat 2 storm. A north-northwestward motion is expected over the next 2 to 3 days while Maria is steered between a cut-off low/trough over the southeastern U.S. and eastern Gulf of Mexico, and a subtropical ridge over the southwestern Atlantic.
Maria is predicted to slow down within the next couple of days as a high pressure ridge builds to the north of the hurricane. This could draw Maria closer to the Outer Banks of NC by Wednesday. Maria should then turn east-northeastward as the ridge to the north weakens and a cold front approaches from the west. The forecast model guidance is in good agreement on this overall scenario, but there remains a fair amount of spread on the timing of recurvature, with the Euro model a little farther west and slower than much of the remainder of the guidance. The updated NHC track is between the ECWMF and the other models. Since Maria is a large hurricane, the associated tropical-storm-force winds could reach a portion of the North Carolina coast by mid-week regardless of the exact forecast track.
Right now, it does not appear Maria will make landfall or have any direct impacts to South Carolina, but the coastal sections of North and South Carolina could see high surf and dangerous Rip Currents through Wednesday along with wind gust near 30-40mph. Rain should mainly be confined to Eastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks, but There could be some isolated showers for the Grand Strand if Maria takes the far western track.
Jonathan Weant is live now with Saturday’s latest tropical forecast! Tune in here!
5AM SEPT 21ST UPDATE:
Hurricane Maria moved over Puerto Rico yesterday and is now back over water and gaining a little more strength. The current intensity estimate is 115 mph based on earlier Air Force Hurricane Hunter data.
Maria is likely to move over warm waters over the next couple of days and some strengthening seems likely over the next day or so. As we go into the weekend, shear could cause gradual weakening.
Maria continues its northwestward motion, at about 9 mph. Maria is expected to turn north-northwestward and northward around a subtropical ridge over the Atlantic for the next 2 to 3 days. days 4 to 5, a mid-level high over the northeastern U.S. could slow the forward motion somewhat. This high is forecast to weaken however, which should allow Maria to turn north-northeastward in the flow on the northwestern edge of a subtropical ridge over the west-central Atlantic.
The official track forecast lies between the consensus guidance and the latest Euro model prediction. The latest track is similar to the previous National Hurricane Center track, thankfully keeping Maria offshore as it passes the Carolina coast.
11AM SEPT 20TH UPDATE:
Hurricane Maria made landfall around Yabucoa, Puerto Rico at 6:15 am and now that the center is moving over the mountainous terrain of the island, the eye has become cloud filled. Maria’s center is expected to move off the northern coast of Puerto Rico soon, and an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to intercept the center early this afternoon and provide a better estimate of how much Maria has weakened.
The initial motion is northwestward at 12 mph. This northwestward motion is forecast to continue for the next 48 hours, followed by a turn toward the north by the weekend.
Once Maria moves off the coast of Puerto Rico, it will take sometime for the structure to reorganize over the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. However, the shear is expected weak for the next 24-36 hours, and Maria has an opportunity to restrengthen a bit over that time period. After 36 hours, a gradual increase in shear is likely to lead to a gradual decrease in the hurricane’s intensity through the end of the forecast period.
The track guidance is tightly clustered this cycle, and there were no significant changes made to the NHC forecast track.
5AM SEPT 20TH UPDATE:
Hurricane Maria completed an eyewall replacement cycle just before making landfall in Puerto Rico around 6:15 this morning. The eye diameter has increased from 10 nautical miles to 30 nautical miles. This has likely contributed to some weakening, and based on the latest observations from the Hurricane Hunters, the intensity is set at 155 miles-per-hour which is at the top of category 4 range. Although there has been a slight reduction of intensity, Maria remains an extremely dangerous hurricane.
Maria continues to move between west-northwest and northwest at about 10 mph. The flow on the south side of a weak mid-level ridge over the western Atlantic is expected to steer the hurricane on this general direction over the next couple of days. This track will bring the center of Maria across Puerto Rico and just north of the eastern Dominican Republic over the next day or so. Some weakening is likely while the system crosses Puerto Rico throughout the day today. After that, a break in the ridge, partially associated with Tropical Storm Jose, should cause Maria to turn north-northwestward, then northward through the weekend. Maria will move into less favorable conditions as it travels east of the Bahamas. Westerly sheer and cooler ocean temperatures, thanks to Irma and Jose, will help to slowly weaken Maria but it is likely to remain a large and powerful hurricane for the next 5 days.
Models do spread after day 5 but they are in fairly good consensus that Maria will pass offshore as it continues to travel up to the north.
8PM SEPT 19TH UPDATE:
Hurricane Maria continues to get stronger this evening. Maximum sustained winds are up to 175 mph, and the central pressure has fallen to 909mb. This is lower than Hurricane Irma, and makes Maria one of the top 10 lowest pressures recorded in Atlantic Hurricanes.
At 8pm, the center of the storm was located 160 miles SE of San Juan, Puerto Rico, moving to the WNW at 10 mph. This motion will continue through tomorrow night, taking the core of the storm near or over St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands tonight, then cross Puerto Rico tomorrow. Hurricane Maria will then move just north of the Dominican Republic tomorrow night and Thursday.
Hurricane Maria will remain a dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane as it crosses Puerto Rico. Slow weakening is expected as the storm moves away from Puerto Rico.
5AM SEPT 19TH UPDATE:
Extremely dangerous Hurricane Maria is a Cat 5 heading towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As of 5 am Tuesday, Maria had winds of 160mph, located at 16.0N, 62.3W or about 65 miles west southwest of Guadeloupe. Maria is moving west northwest at about 9mph.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for… Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for… Antigua and Barbuda, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Anguilla, St. Lucia, Martinique.
On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today, and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday as a powerful cat 4 or 5 hurricane. Maria will be moving through a low-shear
atmospheric environment and mainly over warm waters for the next couple of days. Some fluctuations in intensity are possible in the early part of the forecast period due to eyewall replacement events.Land influences could cause some weakening within the next 36 hours. Later in the forecast period, a modest increase in vertical shear could cause some weakening.
Most of the models along with the official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center brings Maria east of the Bahamas and recurring to the northeast away from the U.S. Maria’s track will greatly depend on what Hurricane Jose does. Right now, Jose is forecast to move closer to the New England area and then slowly turn back to the south and stall. If Jose sticks around, high pressure won’t be allowed to move in from the north, leaving a pathway for Maria to turn out to sea. But if Jose weakens or moves out to sea, high pressure will build in turning Maria further west. Right now that is not the forecast, but something to keep a close eye on.