Hurricane Maria is still churning towards the East Coast

Posted September 26, 2017

This year has seen 13 named storms so far (the designation tropical storms get when their winds exceed 39 mph), making it an "extremely active" year according to the National Hurricane Center. According to The Weather Channel, it's now located more than 500 miles south-southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina, moving north at about 9 mph.

After that, we have to see what hurricane Maria is going to do.

And all seven have come in a row: Franklin, Gert, major Hurricane Harvey, major Hurricane Irma, major Hurricane Jose, Katia and now Lee. Maria passed over Dominica on September 18 - the island's first Category 5 storm - then engulfed Puerto Rico on September 20 as a Category 4 with 155-mph winds. Remember that impacts occur well beyond the cone of error and tropical storm force winds extend up to 230+ miles from the center of the storm.

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However, Maria's weakening would not prevent parts of the East Coast from feeling some direct impacts. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The official NHC forecast suggests Maria will stay offshore of the East Coast and track somewhere between the Carolinas and Bermuda through midweek.

The National Weather Service issued a Tropical Storm Warning for much of the North Carolina coast on Sunday.

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Residents along the Carolina and mid-Atlantic coasts should be monitoring the progress of the storm very closely. So we will keep a close watch on Maria.

In the tropics, Hurricane Maria has made a north-northwestward turn and is starting to move away from the southeastern Bahamas. Good riddance. Our attention now is on Hurricane Maria which is north of the Turks and Caicos and heading north.

Tropical systems "feel" weak spots in the atmosphere in the absence of strong steering currents, and Jose is providing a weakness between a big eastern US area of high pressure and one out over the Atlantic. Closer to where Maria is forecast to move over the Atlantic, individual waves could reach 80 feet. That might be just enough to put the Outer Banks, possibly even Hampton Roads in Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula, into some tropical storm-force winds and maybe some squally rain in the Monday-Wednesday period.

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Maria is not now forecast to impact metro Atlanta.