Tag Archives: the Bahamas

Chris Strengthens to a Hurricane Southeast of Cape Hatteras

Former Tropical Storm Chris strengthened to a hurricane southeast of Cape Hatteras on Tuesday.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Chris was located at latitude 33.7°N and longitude 72.4°W which put it about 205 miles (330 km) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Chris was moving toward the northeast at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 980 mb.

Hurricane Chris strengthened on Tuesday when it moved northeast of cooler water Chris had mixed to the surface while it was meandering off the coast of the Carolinas.  An eye with a diameter of 30 miles (50 km) formed at the center of circulation.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in the eastern side of that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Hurricane Chris.  The strongest rainbands were in the eastern half of the circulation.  Drier air near the western half of the circulation was contributing to the weaker bands in that part of the hurricane.  Storms in the core of the circulation were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the north and east of the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extended out about 20 miles (30 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 95 miles (155 km) from the center.

Hurricane Chris will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Wednesday.  Chris will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  An upper level trough over the northeastern U.S. will produce southwesterly winds that will blow toward the top of the hurricane.  The winds speeds are similar at most levels and they will not generate a lot of vertical wind shear during the next 24 hours.  Hurricane Chris will strengthen on Wednesday and it could intensify rapidly.  Chris will move over cooler water when it gets north of the Gulf Stream and it will start to weaken when that occurs.

The trough over the northeastern U.S. will steer Hurricane Chris toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Chris will move away from the coast of North Carolina.  Chris could be south of Nova Scotia in about 36 hours and it could be near Newfoundland in several days.

Elsewhere, the remnants of former Tropical Storm Beryl crossed Hispaniola and they were moving toward the southeastern Bahamas.  At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Former Tropical Storm Chris was located at latitude 20.1°N and longitude 72.6°W which put it about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Port de Paix, Haiti.  It was moving toward the northwest at 17 m.p.h. (28 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 1013 mb.  A reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system on Wednesday if there are signs that it could be reorganizing into a tropical cyclone.

Tropical Storm Chris Develops South of Cape Hatteras, Beryl Nears Lesser Antilles

Tropical Storm Chris developed south of Cape Hatteras on Sunday morning, while Tropical Storm Beryl neared the Lesser Antilles.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Storm Chris was located at latitude 32.9°N and longitude 75.0°W which put it about 160 miles (260 km) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Chris was nearly stationary.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.

Thunderstorms developed closer to the center of circulation on Sunday morning and the National Hurricane Center designated former Tropical Depression Three as Tropical Storm Chris.  The circulation of Chris was organizing quickly.  A band of showers and thunderstorms was wrapping around the center of circulation.  Several other rainbands were revolving around the core of the tropical storm.  The bands northwest of the center were weaker because there was drier air in that part of Chris.  The storms near the center of circulation were beginning to generate upper level divergence.

Tropical Storm Chris will remain in an environment favorable for intensification for the next two or three days.  The water in the upper portion of the Atlantic Ocean east of the Carolinas is warmer than normal.  Tropical Storm Chris will be over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  Chris will be southeast of an upper level trough over the northeastern quarter of the U.S. and it will be under a small upper level ridge.  The upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Storm Chris will continue to intensify and it could strengthen to a hurricane in the next day or two.

Since Tropical Storm Chris is under the small upper level ridge, the steering winds are weak.  Chris may not move much during the next 24 to 48 hours.  Tropical Storm Chris is forecast to linger of the coast of the Carolinas for several days.  Eventually an upper level trough will approach from the west and start to push Chris toward the northeast.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Beryl was nearing the Lesser Antilles on Sunday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Storm Beryl was located at latitude 14.4°N and longitude 57.9°W which put it about 210 miles (335 km) east of Martinique.  Beryl was moving toward the west-northwest at 23 m.p.h. (37 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1007 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for Dominica and Guadeloupe.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Barthelemy.

Thunderstorms continued to develop near the center of Tropical Storm Beryl on Sunday morning and the weakening trend halted at least temporarily.  Beryl remained a small tropical storm.  Winds to tropical storm force only extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of circulation.  There were several bands of showers and thunderstorms in the eastern half of Tropical Storm Beryl.  The bands in the western half of the circulation consisted primarily of showers and low clouds.

Tropical Storm Beryl is forecast to into a region where the easterly winds in the lower levels are stronger.  That would increase the vertical wind shear and make it difficult for the circulation to stay vertically coherent.  Beryl will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 27°C.  So, there will be enough energy in the upper ocean to support a tropical storm if the wind shear is not too strong.  Tropical Storm Beryl is forecast to weaken when it moves over the eastern Caribbean Sea, but that will depend on how strong the vertical shear gets.

Tropical Storm Beryl is moving south of the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean which is steering Beryl toward the west-northwest.  A general motion toward the west-northwest is forecast to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Beryl will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe during the next few hours,

System to Bring Wind, Rain to Bahamas and South Florida

A complex weather system near the Bahamas is forecast to move westward and it will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to parts of the Bahamas and South Florida during the weekend.  The circulation is strongest in the middle and upper troposphere.  An upper level low is centered near the Bahamas.  Showers and thunderstorms are occurring north and east of the upper low.  There is not a distinct center of circulation in the lower troposphere or at the surface.  There is a small upper level ridge to the east of the upper low and the ridge is producing some upper level divergence which is pumping mass away to the east of the system.

The system will move through an environment that is only marginally favorable for the development of a tropical cyclone.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 26°C.  So, there is potentially enough energy in the upper ocean to support the development of a minimal tropical cyclone.  The upper low and the ridge to the east are southerly winds near the Bahamas and westerly winds southeast of the Bahamas.  Those winds are causing strong vertical wind shear.  The winds are weaker near the center of the upper low, but there are no thunderstorms in that region at the current time.  If a surface low were to develop under the center of the upper low, then there would be the possibility of some slow development.  A second, possible scenario is that a subtropical cyclone develops north and east of the upper low where the showers and thunderstorms are forming.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system at 10:45 a.m. EDT on Friday.  NHC indicated that “no significant development” is expected and it gives a 0% probability of the formation of a tropical cyclone.

The upper level low is forecast to move south-southwest over the northwestern Caribbean Sea during the next 72 hours.  The surface and lower parts of the system are forecast to move across the Bahamas toward South Florida during the weekend.  Since the showers and thunderstorms are occurring north and east of the upper low, this could bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to parts of the Bahamas and South Florida during the weekend.  Some of the humid air on the northeastern periphery of the system could be pulled toward the Carolinas ahead of an approaching cold front.  The moist air could enhance rainfall in eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina when the cold front moves through those places and lifts the air.

Tropical Storm Philippe Brings Wind, Rain to Cuba and South Florida

Tropical Storm Philippe brought wind and rain to parts of Cuba and south Florida on Saturday night.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Storm Philippe was located at latitude 24.8°N and longitude 82.1°W which put it about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Key West, Florida.  Philippe was moving toward the north-northeast at 24 m.p.h. (39 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 1003 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, La Habana, Ciudad de la Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Villa Clara.  Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Tropical Storm Watches were in effect for the portion of the coast from Craig Key to Golden Beach, Florida.  Tropical Storm Watches were also in effect for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

The circulation is of Tropical Storm Philippe is not well organized.  The appear to be multiple smaller centers of counterclockwise rotation moving around inside the broader circulation.  One center of circulation is in northwest of Key West.  Showers and thunderstorms were primarily northeast of that center of rotation.  There were low clouds west of that center.  Another center of rotation was just north of the coast of Cuba.  A primary band of showers and thunderstorms wrapped around the eastern side of this second center.  The middle and upper level circulation of Tropical Storm Philippe appeared to be associated with the center near Cuba.

Tropical Storm Philippe will move through an environment that will be somewhat favorable for intensification.  Philippe will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  An upper level trough approaching Tropical Storm Philippe from the west is producing strong southwesterly winds which are causing significant vertical wind shear.  The shear is inhibiting the organization of the circulation.  Tropical Storm Philippe could intensify on Sunday if the center of circulation near Cuba becomes the dominant center, since it has a more complete vertical structure.

The upper level trough will continue to steer Tropical Storm Philippe quickly toward the northeast on Sunday.  On its anticipated track Tropical Storm Philippe will move through the Upper Florida Keys and over the Northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.   It will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rains to those areas.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen Prompts Warnings for Cuba and Bahamas

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen prompted the governments of Cuba and the Bahamas to issue Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches for portions of those countries on Friday afternoon.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen was located at latitude 17.5°N and longitude 84.5°W which put it about 415 miles (670 km) south-southwest of Havana, Cuba.  It was moving toward the north-northwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 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 1006 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for the Cuban provinces of Isla de la Juventud, La Habana, Ciudad de la Habana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Villa Clara.  Tropical Storm Warnings were also issued for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.  Tropical Storm Watches were issued for the Central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance plane investigated the system formerly known as Invest 93L on Friday afternoon.  The plane found sustained winds to tropical storm force.  The plane also found a broad circulation center with several smaller centers of circulation revolving around inside the broader center.  Based on the observations from the plane, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) chose not to upgrade the system to Tropical Storm Philippe in its 5:00 p.m. EDT advisory.  However, NHC did change the designation of the system from Invest 93L to Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen.  If a more well defined center of circulation develops, then NHC could still change designation of the system to Tropical Storm Philippe.

The circulation of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is still organizing.  As mentioned above, there is a broad center of counterclockwise rotation.  There are also several smaller counterclockwise swirls within the broader center.  More showers and thunderstorms developed closer to the center of circulation on Friday afternoon.  The storms closer to the center of circulation were generating some upper level divergence which was pumping away mass to the northeast of the system.  Some bands of showers and thunderstorms were developing in the outer portions of the circulation.

Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The system is embedded in a flow over warm moist air.  However there is a stationary front northwest of the system and there is cooler, drier air north of the stationary front.  The system is currently under the western side of an upper level ridge.  The upper level winds are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen could slowly intensify during the next 24 hours as the circulation becomes more well organized.

The ridge east of Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen is steering the system toward the north-northwest.  That general motion should continue for another six to twelve hours.  An upper level trough will approach the system from the west on Saturday and the trough will start to steer it more toward the northeast.  On its anticipated track Potential Tropical Cyclone Eighteen will approach Cuba on Saturday afternoon.  The center of the system will move south of the Florida Keys on Saturday night and it could move across the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday.

The system will bring gusty winds and locally heavy rain to those locations.  The locally heavy rain could cause flooding.  There could be a storm surge of several feet (one to two meters) on parts of the south coast of Cuba, where the wind blows the water toward the coast.  There could also be some storm surge along the coasts of the Florida Keys.

Low Pressure Forms Near Northwest Caribbean Sea

An area of low pressure formed near the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Monday and the system has been designated as Invest 93L.  At 8:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Invest 93L was located at latitude 14.0°N and longitude 83.0°W which put it about 75 miles (120 km) south-southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios.  It was moving toward the north at 6 m.p.h. (9 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 1006 mb.

An area of low pressure formed in the southern portion of an area of showers and thunderstorms that has persisted over the western Caribbean Sea for several days.  The circulation of Invest 93L is not well organized.  There is no well organized center of circulation nor are there well organized rainbands.  Most of the showers and thunderstorms are occurring in the northern portion of the circulation.  There are not many showers or thunderstorms in the southern half of the circulation.  Much of the western half of the circulation is over Nicaragua and Honduras.

Invest 93L will move through an environment mostly favorable for the development of a tropical cyclone during the next few days.  It will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  Invest 93L is near the axis of an upper level ridge.  So, the upper level winds are weak over the system.  There are stronger winds farther north over the northern Caribbean Sea.  Invest 93L will be slow to develop as long as almost half of the circulation is over land.  Development will be more likely when the center moves farther away from land.

Invest 93L is just west of the axis of the ridge, which is steering the system slowly toward the north.  That general motion is forecast to continue for several more days.  On its anticipated track Invest 93L will move over the northwestern Caribbean Sea later this week.  Invest 93L will drop locally heavy rain over Nicaragua and Honduras and it could cause flash floods in some areas.

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.

Hurricane Maria Moves Away from Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria moved away from Puerto Rico on Wednesday night after causing significant wind damage and serious flash floods.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Maria was located at latitude 19.2°N and longitude 67.9°W which put it about 55 miles (85 km) northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Maria was moving toward the northwest at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 110 m.p.h. (175 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 130 m.p.h. (210 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 959 mb.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for the Turks and Caicos, the Southeastern Bahamas, and the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.  A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano to Isla Saona, Dominican Republic.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for the portions of the coast from Puerto Plata to the northern border with Haiti and from Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque, Dominican Republic.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico near Yabucoa on Wednesday morning.  Maria was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale at the time of landfall.  Hurricane Maria moved northwest across Puerto Rico and the center emerged over the Atlantic Ocean near Arecibo on Thursday afternoon.

Hurricane Maria weakened as the core of the hurricane moved across Puerto Rico.  The mountains on Puerto Rico disrupted the circulation in the lower levels of Maria, but the middle and upper portions of the circulation remained intact.  Hurricane Maria was in the middle of an eyewall replacement cycle when it made landfall in Puerto Rico.  The timing of landfall may have caused Maria to weaken more than it would have if there had not been an eyewall replacement cycle.  The inner eyewall which contained the strongest winds dissipated at Hurricane Maria moved across Puerto Rico.  The strongest winds are occurring in the remaining outer eyewall.  The eyewall replacement cycle contributed to an increase in the size of the circulation of Hurricane Maria.  Wind to hurricane force extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Wind to tropical storm force extend out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

Hurricane Maria will move through an environment favorable for intensification on Thursday.  Maria will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is not much vertical wind shear.  It could take another 12 to 24 hours for the lower portions of the circulation to reorganize.   The reorganization could limit the rate of intensification.  In addition the center will pass near the Dominican Republic.  Some of the southern part of the circulation will be over land and that could also limit intensification until Maria moves farther away from Hispaniola.

Hurricane Maria is moving around the southwestern portion of the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  That high has been steering Maria toward the northwest.  Many of the numerical models are forecasting that the high will weaken and Maria will turn toward the north on Thursday.  If the high remains stronger than the models are forecasting, then Hurricane Maria will move farther toward the west.  Hurricane Maria seems to have moved near the left side of the guidance from the numerical models in recent days.  On its forecast track the center of Hurricane Maria will move north of the Dominican Republic on Thursday.  Hurricane Maria could be near the Turks and Caicos on Friday.

Hurricane Maria is still capable of producing extensive significant damage.  Maria will drop heavy rain on parts of the Dominican Republic and there could be flash floods in some places where there is steeper terrain.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Jose move slowly east-northeast southeast of Massachusetts.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Jose was located at latitude 39.5°N and longitude 68.2°W which put it about 150 miles (245 km) southeast of Nantucket.  Jose was moving toward the east-northeast at 6 m.p.h. (9 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were ind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 982 mb.  A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach including Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod.

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.