Tropical Storm Maria forms, forecast to strike Puerto Rico as a Category 3 storm

NEW ORLEANS – Tropical Storm Maria formed in the open Atlantic, becoming the 13th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. There are three named storms currently in the Atlantic with Hurricane Jose off the eastern coast of the United States and Tropical Storm Lee farther west into the Atlantic than Maria.

Maria is forecast to rapidly strengthen as it moves west-northwest through the open Atlantic and hurricane watches are already in effect for the northern Antilles Islands, an area that’s already been hit twice by catastrophic hurricanes: Category 5 Irma and Category 4 Jose.

Maria’s path takes it through these northern islands in the Caribbean and towards Puerto Rico. At this time Maria’s path through the Caribbean is similar to Irma’s, only farther south. It is important to note that while the path of Maria and Irma are similar at this point, it DOES NOT necessarily mean that it will continue to be similar in the future.

Once in the Caribbean, Maria is forecast to continue to strengthen on a path that at this time heads right into the southern shores of Puerto Rice as a category three hurricane. All interests on the island should begin hurricane preparations immediately.

On this path, Maria would re-emerge into open waters north of the Dominican Republic  weaker, but still a hurricane as it passes just north of that country. As with any storm, the path of this storm is subject to change and will be monitored closely. It is too early to tell what the effects, if any, on the United States mainland would be.

In addition to Maria, Jose and Lee continue their movement through the open waters of the Atlantic. Lee is a tropical storm and unlike Maria is not encountering favorable conditions in the far Western Atlantic. Lee is forecast to degenerate into a tropical wave early next week. Meanwhile Hurricane Jose continues to move north in the Atlantic. While landfall on the United States coastline is unlikely at this time, dangerous and possibly deadly rip currents are possible along the coast from the Outer Banks and Maine.

Stay with WGNO online and on-air as we continue to monitor a very active weekend in the tropics.