Storm ambles north off U.S. coast as Irma-like system eyes Florida Keys
Strike possible from N.C. to New England
Elsewhere, Hurricane Norma moved closer to Mexico in the Pacific, while Tropical Storm Lee formed in the Atlantic.
As Hurricane Jose ambles northward in the Atlantic far off the East Coast, an innocuoussounding system has turned into Tropical Storm Maria in the Caribbean and could well follow Irma’s destructive path toward Florida as a full-blown hurricane.
At 5 p.m. Saturday, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the one-time disturbance to Tropical Depression Maria and said it was 620 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles, moving west at 20 mph. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
A hurricane watch was issued for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, a route followed by Irma as it moved westward.
A Tropical Storm watch was in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Monday night or Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions possible on Monday,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Although forecast tracks can change dramatically over the coming week, maps on Saturday show the storm moving on an Irma-like path over Puerto Rico on Wednesday and Hispaniola Thursday morning heading straight toward the Florida Keys.
Hurricane Jose, meanwhile, was 485 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., moving north at 6 mph with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
The center said “interests” from North Carolina to New England should monitor the storm’s progress and advised that tropical storm watches may be issued in the next day or two for portions of that area along the East Coast.
Elsewhere, Hurricane Norma weakened to a tropical storm as it moves closer to Mexico in the Pacific while Tropical Storm Lee has formed in the Atlantic far from land, heading west.
An American flag waves Thursday where a home in the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla., used to stand before it was destroyed when Hurricane Irma brought high winds and flooding.