Tropical Storm Maria Could Become Hurricane, Following Irma’s Path

A series of storms are sitting in the Atlantic, one of which threatens areas recently hit by Hurricane Irma.

ATLANTA (CNN) — Tropical Storm Maria could become a hurricane Sunday (Sept. 17) as it takes aim on islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.

As of Sunday afternoon, Maria was about 405 miles southeast of the Leeward Islands, moving toward the Caribbean at 15 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It was hurling winds of 65 mph, but those winds could top 74 mph later Sunday — turning Maria into a full-blown hurricane.

“Swells generated by Maria are beginning to affect the Lesser Antilles. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the hurricane center said.

Maria is one of three storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, but it poses the most danger to the hurricane-battered Caribbean.

Maria has prompted a hurricane warning for Guadeloupe and Dominica and a hurricane watch for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla — many of which were devastated when Irma struck and killed 44 people in the Caribbean.

“Additional tropical storm or hurricane watches and warnings will likely be issued today,” the hurricane center said Sunday.

Parts of the Leeward Islands are expected to see hurricane conditions by Monday (Sept. 18) night.

“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands,” the NHC said.

Torrential rainfall could cause deadly flash flooding and mudslides. Maria could dump 6 to 12 inches of rain across the Leeward Islands — including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands — through Wednesday night.

Hurricane Jose
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose intensified as it churned north on Sunday, threatening “dangerous surf and rip currents” along the US East Coast in the next few days, the hurricane center said.

As of midday Sunday, the Category 1 hurricane was about 355 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and moving north at 9 mph.

While the center of Jose is expected to stay off from the US East Coast, “swells generated by Jose are affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, and much of the US east coast,” the NHC said.

“These swells are likely to cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions for the next several days in these areas.”

Tropical Depression Lee
Lee, the third storm in the Atlantic, fizzled from a tropical storm to a tropical depression Sunday, the hurricane center said.

As of midday Sunday, the storm was about 875 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands.

Lee’s maximum sustained winds sputtered to 35 mph, and are expected to further weaken in the coming days.