TROPICAL STORM MARIA – update #1
Over the past 24 hours, the storm path for TROPICAL STORM MARIA has shifted slightly to the west-southwest, and now all of a sudden the storm is looking a lot more interesting to those of us in the southeastern United States.
The first image is pretty cool as the top of the screen has HURRICANE KATIA, the left side has TROPICAL STORM NATE in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and off to the far right in the Atlantic Ocean is TROPICAL STORM MARIA.
As of the latest public advisory, TROPICAL STORM MARIA is still about 600 miles east of the Windward Islands and tearing across the ocean on a due west track at about 22 mph. As fast as the storm is moving, the tropical cyclone is still not that well organized or strong. The maximum sustained winds are only 40 knots (46 mph), gusting to 50 knots, and with a minimum central pressure of 1006 mb.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, has shifted TROPICAL STORM MARIA‘s path southward and now has the tropical cyclone passing over the central Leeward Islands, entering the Caribbean Sea, passing over Puerto Rico, and then skirting the eastern edge of the Bahamas. Take note that the storm is forecast to stay a tropical storm for the entire forecast period.
The computer models are in general consensus throughout the forecast period.
According to the discussion at the NHC, a large, subtropical ridge covering much of the Atlantic Ocean is going to keep TROPICAL STORM MARIA along its path through the Caribbean islands. A weaker ridge later in the forecast period is expected to turn the tropical cyclone more to the northwest and decrease its forward speed.
But the big question is: How strong will the tropical storm be when it approaches the Bahamas and all points beyond?
There’s talk right now about the tropical storm continuing to weaken and possibly be downgraded to a tropical depression within the next 12-24 hours. This weakening will most likely be temporary as the storm will have a shot at re-organizing as it passes over the northeastern Caribbean Sea, though apparently the computer models are not forecasting any conditions for aggressive strengthening. The long-rage forecast suggests that TROPICAL STORM MARIA could be a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reaches the Bahamas.
A TROPICAL STORM WATCH is currently in effect for the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles including Antigua, St. Maartin, Guadeloupe, Dominica, and Martinique.