TROPICAL STORM MARIA – A First Look
The latest named storm in the 2011 hurricane season is TROPICAL STORM MARIA.
Still waaaaaay out to sea in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and over 1,300 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, TROPICAL STORM MARIA has maximum sustained winds of 45 knots (50 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 1003 mb. The tropical cyclone is racing almost due west at around 23 mph.
The official forecast by the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, is calling for TROPICAL STORM MARIA to continue tracking to the west and make a slight turn to the northwest by this weekend, skirting the northern islands in the Lesser Antilles and passing north of Puerto Rico.
The computer models are in general consensus through Friday. After that there’s a bit of discrepancy as to just how far TROPICAL STORM MARIA will curve to the north and possibly northeast. Some models keep the tropical cyclone on a track curving up the Bahamas while other models put the storm more on a track with Bermuda.
According to the discussion at the NHC, TROPICAL STORM MARIA is currently dealing with wind shear and the models are suggesting that the tropical cyclone won’t experience much strengthening until sometime this weekend, keeping it a tropical storm for the next few days. It’s still too early to predict just how much the storm will turn once it approaches the northeastern Caribbean Sea and curves around the western edge of a subtropical ridge in the Atlantic Ocean.
In a few days we should have a better idea if TROPICAL STORM MARIA will have an impact on the U.S. coastline or not. Odds are that it’ll miss the U.S., but it’s too early to make such a call.
In the meantime, it looks like something new is developing in the very warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico.