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Hurricane Nate Brings Gusty Winds and Surge to Mississippi Coast

Hurricane Nate brought gusty winds, heavy rain and a storm surge to the coast of Mississippi on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 29.9°N and longitude 89.1°W which put it about 35 miles (60 km) south-southwest of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north at 20 m.p.h. (32 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (140 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 983 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Alabama/Florida border.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the mouth of the Pearl River, for New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain and for the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida.

Some drier air wrapped into the western side of Hurricane Nate on Saturday afternoon.  In addition an upper level trough approaching Nate from the west produced southwesterly winds which caused vertical wind shear.  The drier air and shear caused the circulation of Hurricane Nate to become asymmetrical.  The stronger winds are occurring in the eastern half of the circulation.  The winds are weaker in the western side of the hurricane.  The bands of showers and thunderstorms are also occurring in the eastern half of Hurricane Nate.  Very little rain was falling on the western side of the hurricane.

The partial eyewall north of the center of Hurricane Nate was moving over the coast of Mississippi from Pascagoula to Gulfport.  Strong gusty winds and heavy rain were falling on that section of the coast.  Winds blowing water toward the coast were pushing a storm surge onto the coast.  A water level gauge at a NOAA laboratory in Pascagoula, Mississippi was reporting a storm surge of 6.75 feet (2.06 meters).  The highest surges were occurring in Mississippi, but there were also storm surges on the coast of Alabama and Florida.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were dropping heavy rain over southeastern Mississippi, southwestern and central Alabama and northwestern Florida.  Brief tornadoes spun up in some of the thunderstorms on Saturday.

Hurricane Nate will move inland over southeastern Mississippi during the overnight hours.  Nate will weaken after it moves inland, but it will continue to bring gusty winds as it spins down.  There is a strong flow of moist air from the south and heavy rain will continue to fall east of the track of Hurricane Nate.  Places west of the track will experience weaker winds and will receive little rain.  Locations west of a line from New Orleans to Hattiesburg to Meridian,  Mississippi could see little minimal impacts from Nate.  Nate will cross over west central Alabama on Sunday morning.  It will continue to move toward the north-northeast and the remnants of Nate could reach eastern Tennessee on Sunday night.  Areas of heavy rain will fall over northwestern Florida, Alabama, northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.  Fresh water flooding could occur in some of those areas.  Tornadoes could develop in the rainbands again on Sunday afternoon.

Hurricane Nate Speeds Toward Gulf Coast

Strengthening Hurricane Nate sped toward the central Gulf Coast on Saturday.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Nate was located at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 88.4°W which put it about 265 miles (425 km) south of Biloxi, Mississippi.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 26 m.p.h. (43 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 984 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line and from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida and from Grand Isle to Morgan City.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana.

Hurricane Nate strengthened on Saturday as it moved over the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.  An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) began to form at the center of circulation.  A ring of thunderstorms around the eye was generating strong upper level divergence which pumped mass away from Hurricane Nate.  The strongest winds were occurring in the eastern side of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 35 miles (55 km) east of the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 120 miles (195 km) east of the center, but they only extend out about 60 miles (95 km) to the west of the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Nate is 13.9.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 7.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 21.6.

Hurricane Nate will continue to intensify during the next 12 hours until it makes landfall.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  However, there are also southerly winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere and as a result, there is not much vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Nate is likely to intensify to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before it makes landfall.  There is a chance Hurricane Nate could intensify to Category 3 before landfall, if it continues to intensify rapidly.

The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Hurricane Nate quickly toward the north-northwest and that motion is expected to continue for the next few hours.  An upper level trough over the Central U.S. will approach Nate on Saturday night as the hurricane nears the coast.  The trough will turn Hurricane Nate more toward the north as it reaches the coast.  The trough should steer Nate quickly toward the north-northeast after it makes landfall.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Nate will pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Saturday evening.  The center of Nate will likely make landfall on the coast of Mississippi or near Mobile on Saturday night.

Hurricane Nate will be capable of causing regional serious damage when it makes landfall.  Nate will produce strong winds, especially in locations east of the track of the hurricane.  Nate will also be capable of producing a storm surge of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 4 meters) along the coast.  The surge will be higher in bays, inlets and mouths of rivers that funnel the water into specific areas.  Nate will also be capable of dropping heavy rain as it moves inland.

Stronger Tropical Storm Nate Speeds Toward Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Warning for New Orleans

A stronger Tropical Storm Nate sped toward the Gulf of Mexico on Friday afternoon and a Hurricane Warning was issued for the city of New Orleans.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 20.3°N and longitude 85.7°W which put it about 80 miles (125 km) east of Cozumel, Mexico and about 710 miles (1145 km) south-southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Nate was moving toward the north-northwest at 21 m.p.h. (33 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 993 mb.

A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.  A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Grand Isle to Morgan City, Louisiana and from the Alabama/Florida border to the Okaloosa/Walton County line.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect from Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Lousiana and from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to Indian Pass, Florida.  A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pinar del Rio province in Cuba.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Isle of Youth province in Cuba.

The inner core of Tropical Storm Nate tightened up on Friday afternoon.  A primary rainband wrapped about three quarters of the way around the center of circulation.  There was an opening to the northeast of the center.  The rainband could develop into an eyewall if it wraps completely around the center of circulation.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms formed outside the core of Tropical Storm Nate.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 125 miles (200 km) to the east of the center of circulation.  The winds were weaker in the western half of the circulation.  Thunderstorms near the core began to generate stronger upper level divergence which was pumping out mass and the surface pressure decreased on Friday afternoon.

Tropical Storm Nate will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Saturday.  Nate will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  An upper level low over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation but the vertical wind shear is not too strong.  Tropical Storm Nate will become a hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico.  If an eyewall and an eye form, then Nate could have a period of rapid intensification.

The upper low over the western Gulf of Mexico and a ridge east of Florida are combining to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue on Saturday.  An upper level trough approaching from the west will turn Nate toward the northeast when it nears the U.S.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will pass near the northeastern end of the Yucatan peninsula and move into the Gulf of Mexico on Friday night.  Nate will approach southeastern Louisiana and Central Gulf Coast on Saturday night.

Nate will be a hurricane when it nears the U.S.  It will be capable of producing serious regional wind damage and power outages.  Nate could cause a storm surge of 10-12 feet (3 to 4 meters) near where the center makes landfall.  Nate could also drop locally heavy rain and cause fresh water flooding when it moves inland in the southern U.S.

Tropical Storm Nate Makes Landfall in Nicaragua

Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Nate and Nate made landfall on the coast of northeastern Nicaragua on Thursday morning.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Nate was located at latitude 14.5°N and longitude 84.0°W which put it about 50 miles (80 km) south-southwest of Puerto Lempira, Honduras.  Nate was moving toward the northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1001 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning is also in effect from Punta Herrero to Rio Lagartos.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

The center of Tropical Depression Sixteen strengthened on Thursday morning before it made landfall in Nicaragua and the National Hurricane Center designated the system as Tropical Storm Nate.  Showers and thunderstorms continue to develop near the center of circulation even though it is moving across northeastern Nicaragua.  The winds to tropical storm force are occurring in bands of showers and storms east of the center over the Caribbean Sea.  The winds are weaker in the portions of the circulation that are over land.

Tropical Storm Nate will not strengthen while the center is over land.  Nate will move into a favorable environment when it moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  The Sea Surface Temperature will be near 30°C.  An upper level low will cause southerly winds to blow toward the top of the circulation, but the vertical wind shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent intensification.  It could take a few hours for the inner core of the circulation to reorganize after it moves back over water.  Once the inner core reorganizes, then a period of rapid intensification could occur.  Nate could become a hurricane over the northwest Caribbean Sea or southern Gulf of Mexico.

An upper level low west of Florida will drift westward over the Gulf of Mexico.  The upper low and an upper level ridge east of Florida will combine to steer Tropical Storm Nate toward the north-northwest.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Nate will emerge over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.  Nate could be near the Yucatan peninsula on Friday night and it could move into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  Nate could approach the northern Gulf Coast on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Tropical Storm Nate is dropping heavy rain on parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.  There is the potential for flooding in those areas.  Nate is likely to be a hurricane when it approaches the Gulf Coast.  It will be capable of causing wind damage, a storm surge and locally heavy rain.

Tropical Depression 16 Organizes Near Nicaragua

Tropical Depression Sixteen organized near Nicaragua on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Depression Sixteen was located at latitude 12.8°N and longitude 82.7°W which put it about 95 miles (155 km) south-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.  It was moving toward the northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h. (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1004 mb.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Punta Herrero to Cabo Catoche, Mexico.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua to Punta Castilla, Honduras.

The circulation of Tropical Depression Sixteen exhibited more organization on Wednesday.  An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft found a distinct surface center of circulation on Wednesday afternoon.  More thunderstorms began to form near the center on Wednesday evening.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms developed on the northern and southern sides of the circulation.  There were sustained winds in some of the bands that were near tropical storm force.

Tropical Depression Sixteen will move through an environment that will be favorable for intensification during the next several days.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Some of the western part of the circulation is passing over Nicaragua and the increased friction is the only factor inhibiting intensification.  If the center of circulation stays over water, then the depression will likely strengthen into a tropical storm on Thursday.  If the center of circulation moves over northeastern Nicaragua, then the depression will weaken.  The system is likely to strengthen when it moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.

A ridge of high pressure is steering the tropical depression slowly toward the northwest and that motion is expected to continue for another day or so.  An upper low near the west coast of Florida is going to move west across the Gulf of Mexico.  When the upper low gets northwest of Tropical Depression Sixteen, it will start to pull the depression more toward the north.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Depression Sixteen will move near or over northeastern Nicaragua on Thursday.  The depression could drop very heavy rain and cause floods in parts of Nicaragua and Honduras.  It is forecast to move over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday and the depression could be near the northeastern Yucatan peninsula by Friday night.  The depression is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.  There is more uncertainty about the future track of the system after that time.

Low Pressure Develops Over Southwest Caribbean Sea

An area of low pressure developed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday afternoon and the system was designated Invest 90L.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Invest 90L was located at latitude 12.0°N and longitude 80.7°W which put it about 200 miles (320 km) east of Bluefields, Nicaragua.  It was moving toward the west-northwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 30 m.p.h. (50 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.

The circulation of Invest 90L was still organizing on Tuesday afternoon.  The area of low pressure appeared to have a distinct center of circulation.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were forming south and east of the center of circulation.  There were fewer showers and thunderstorms northwest of the center.  There was some upper level divergence that was pumping mass away to the south and west of the center.

Invest 90L will be moving through an environment favorable for intensification.  The Sea Surface Temperature in the southwest Caribbean Sea is near 30°C and the warm water is fairly deep.  The energy content of the water in that area is high.  An upper level ridge centered over the western Gulf of Mexico is producing northeasterly which are blowing toward the northwestern side of Invest 90L.  Those winds are producing some vertical wind shear, but the shear is not likely to be strong enough to prevent the formation of a tropical cyclone.  Invest 90L is likely to become a tropical depression or storm during the next 24 to 48 hours.  If the center remains east of Nicaragua, rapid intensification could occur after the circulation consolidates around the low level center.

Invest 90L is moving slowly toward the west-northwest as it moves near the southern side of a mid-level ridge.  That ridge could steer Invest 90L close to the coast of Nicaragua during the next several days.  The mid-level ridge is forecast to move east to near the Bahamas during the next 24 to 48 hours.  After that time, southerly winds are forecast to steer Invest 90L toward the north.  On its anticipated track the center of Invest 90L could move very close to Nicaragua during the next day or two.  It could bring locally heavy rain to Nicaragua and Honduras.  Invest 90L could move into the Gulf of Mexico in a few days.  The intensity of Invest 90L when it reaches the Gulf will depend on how much it interacts with Nicaragua and the Yucatan peninsula.  If the center stays over water, then it could be a hurricane when it reaches the Gulf of Mexico.  If the center spends more time over land, then the system will be weaker when it reaches the Gulf.  Some models are forecasting that a hurricane could make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast during the weekend.

Hurricane Maria Pulls Away from the Turks and Caicos

Hurricane Maria pulled away slowly from the Turks and Caicos on Friday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Maria was located at latitude 23.3°N and longitude 71.4°W which put it about 395 miles (635 km) east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas.  Maria was moving toward the north-northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 959 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Turks and Caicos, Southeastern Bahamas and Central Bahamas.

The structure of Hurricane Maria did not change much on Friday.  An eye continued to mark the center of circulation.  A nearly complete ring of thunderstorms surrounded the eye.  The strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms revolved around the core of Hurricane Maria.  There were more showers and thunderstorms in the northern half of the circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

Hurricane Maria will move through an environment that is somewhat favorable for hurricanes.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level trough over the southeastern U.S. is producing southwesterly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds are not producing strong vertical wind shear, but they could impede upper level divergence to the west of Hurricane Maria.  Hurricane Maria could maintain its intensity for another day or two unless the vertical shear increases. If the shear increases, then Maria will start to weaken.

Hurricane Maria has reached the western end of the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Maria toward the north-northwest.  A general north-northwesterly motion is expected to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track the core of Hurricane Maria will pass east of the Bahamas.

Major Hurricane Maria Moves Slowly Toward the Turks and Caicos

Major Hurricane Maria moved slowly toward the Turks and Caicos on Thursday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Maria was located at latitude 21.0°N and longitude 80.2°W which put it about 65 miles (110 km) east-southeast of the Turks and Caicos.  Maria was moving toward the northwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 955 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the Turks and Caicos, the Southeastern Bahamas and the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for portion of the coast from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic to the northern border with Haiti.  Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for the Central Bahamas.

The core of Hurricane Maria reorganized on Thursday as the center moved over the warm water north of the Dominican Republic.  A large eye formed at the center of circulation.  The eye had a diameter of 40 miles (64 km).  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.   Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Maria.  Crossing over Puerto Rico and an eyewall replacement cycle produced a larger circulation.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

Hurricane Maria will move through an environment favorable for strong hurricanes.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperatures are near 29°C.  Hurricane Maria will remain in an area where the upper level winds are weak and there is likely to be little vertical wind shear for at least one more day.  The outer portion of the southern half of Hurricane Maria’s circulation is still passing over the Dominican Republic.   Additional friction in the part of the circulation passing over land could reduce the amount of intensification that occurs.  Hurricane Maria is likely to strengthen on Friday and it could reach Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Hurricane Maria is nearing the western end of the subtropical high pressure system which is steering the hurricane toward the northwest.  Maria is entering an area where the steering currents are weaker and the motion of the hurricane slowed on Thursday night.  The numerical models are still forecasting that Hurricane Maria will turn north on Friday when it rounds the western end of the high pressure system.  Hurricane Maria is moving a little farther west than has been forecast and that trend could continue on Friday.  If Hurricane Maria does move farther west than anticipated, then the core of Maria could come very close to the Turks and Caicos and parts of the Southeastern Bahamas.

Even if the center of Hurricane Maria does not pass directly over the Turks and Caicos and Southeastern Bahamas, bands of showers and thunderstorms will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain.  Maria will also cause a storm surge on the coasts of those islands.  If the center of Maria passes directly over them, the hurricane is capable of causing major damage.  The southern part of Maria’s circulation is bringing heavy rain to parts of the Dominican Republic and there is the potential for flash floods.

Category 5 Hurricane Maria Bearing Down on Puerto Rico

Category 5 Hurricane Maria was bearing down on Puerto Rico on Tuesday night.  The eye was very near St. Croix.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Maria was located at latitude 17.3°N and longitude 64.7°W which put it about 30 miles (45 km) south-southeast of St. Croix and about 120 miles (190 km) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Maria was moving toward the west-northwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 175 m.p.h. (280 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 215 m.p.h. (345 m/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 909 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for Puerto Rico, Culebra, Vieques, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  Hurricane Watches were in effect for the Turks and Caicos, the Southeastern Bahamas, Saba, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Eustatius, St. Barthelemy, and the portion of the coast from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, the portion of the coast from Puerto Plata,, Dominican Republic to the northern border with Haiti and for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque, Dominican Republic,

Hurricane Maria is a very well organized powerful hurricane.  It has a small inner eye and a second outer eyewall extends most of the way around the inner eyewall.  The strongest winds are occurring in the inner eyewall.  Additional spiral bands are revolving around the core of the circulation.  The concentric eyewalls have caused the circulation of Hurricane Maria to increase in size.  Winds to hurricane force now extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Maria is 40.4.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 19.2 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 59.6.  Those indices indicate that Hurricane Maria is capable of causing regional catastrophic damage.

Hurricane Maria will continue to move through an environment favorable for powerful hurricanes until it reaches Puerto Rico.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  If the outer eyewall completely encircles the inner eyewall, then an eyewall replacement cycle could cause some weakening.  Hurricane Maria will weaken more if the center moves directly over Puerto Rico.  The amount of weakening will depend on the stage of the eyewall replacement cycle at the time of landfall.

Hurricane Maria is being steered toward the west-northwest by the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean.  The western end of the high is forecast to weaken during the next several days.  The weakening of the high will allow Hurricane Maria to move more toward the north.  The core of Hurricane Maria will pass near or over St. Croix during the next few hours.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Maria will reach Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning.

Hurricane Maria is a very dangerous hurricane.  It is capable of causing catastrophic damage.  Maria will also drop very heavy rain over Puerto Rico and there is the potential for significant flash flooding.  Maria could also cause a storm surge of up to 12 feet (4 meters) along the coast.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Jose weakened to a tropical storm east of the U.S.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Jose was located at latitude 37.9°N and longitude 70.8°W which put it about 230 miles (375 km) south of Nantucket.  Jose was moving toward the northeast at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 70 m.p.h. (110 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 973 mb.

A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts including Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod.  A Tropical Storm Watch was in effect for the portion of Long Island from Fire Island Inlet to Port Jefferson.

Maria Becomes a Hurricane, Jose Prompts Watches for Northeast U.S.

A reconnaissance plane found that Tropical Storm Maria had intensified into a hurricane as it moved toward the Leeward Islands on Sunday afternoon.  At the same time Hurricane Jose moved farther north and Tropical Storm Watches were issued for the coast of the northeastern U.S.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Maria was located at latitude 13.8°N and longitude 57.5°W which put it about 275 miles (445 km) east-southeast of Dominica.  Maria was moving toward the west-northwest at 15 m.p.h. (24 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 982 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.  Hurricane Watches were in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Islands, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, and Anguilla.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for Martinique, St. Lucia, Antigua, Barbuda, Saba, and St. Eustatius.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A reconnaissance plane found sustained winds to hurricane force when it investigated Hurricane Maria on Sunday afternoon.  The plane reported a circular eye with a diameter of 32 miles (52 km) at the center of circulation.  The eye was surrounded by an almost complete ring of thunderstorms.  The ring was broken south of the center.  The strongest winds wind occurring in that ring of thunderstorms.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing in the eastern half of the circulation.  There were fewer showers and thunderstorms in the western half of Maria.  Hurricane Maria was generating upper level divergence which was pumping away mass and allowing the surface pressure to decrease.

Hurricane Maria will move through an environment that will be favorable for intensification.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level low over Caribbean Sea is causing southern winds which are blowing near the eastern side of Hurricane Maria.  Those winds do not appear to be causing significant vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Maria is likely to continue to intensify as it moves toward the Leeward Islands.  Maria could intensify rapidly once a fully closed eye develops.

Hurricane Maria is being steered toward the west-northwest by the subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean and that general motion is expected to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Maria could reach the Leeward Islands by later on Monday.  Maria could be near Puerto Rico by Wednesday.  Hurricane Maria will affect some of the same islands damaged by Hurricane Irma a few days ago.  Strong winds and heavy rain will significantly impact recovery efforts in those areas.

A reconnaissance plane also found that Hurricane Jose was stronger on Sunday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Jose was located at latitude 31.5°N and longitude 71.8°W which put it about 335 miles (535 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Jose was moving toward the north at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (170 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 967 mb.

Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the portions of the coast from Fenwick Island, Delaware to Sandy Hook, New Jersey and from East Rockaway Inlet, New York to Plymouth, Massachusetts including Long Island Sound, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Hurricane Jose strengthened on Sunday as it moved over water where the Sea Surface Temperature was near 29°C.  An eye appeared at times on visible satellite imagery.  The circulation of Hurricane Jose increased in size which often happens when hurricanes move north out of the tropics.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 290 miles (470 km) from the center.

Hurricane Jose will move through an environment which will be marginal for further intensification.  Jose will move over water which is warm enough to support intensification.  However, an upper level trough over the eastern U.S. is producing southerly winds which are blowing toward the top of the circulation.  Those winds are producing strong vertical wind shear and they could weaken Jose during the next several days.  Jose will be moving over warm water until it gets north of the Gulf Stream.  If the upper level winds slow, then Jose could get stronger.

Hurricane Jose is being steered northward by the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean and the trough over the eastern U.S.  On its anticipated track the center of Jose is forecast to move toward the northeastern U.S. and turn toward the east before it reaches the coast.  If Jose follows the forecast track, then the core of the hurricane would remain offshore.  However, the circulation of Jose is large enough that even if the center stays offshore, there could still be tropical storm force winds along the coast.