At 11 AM EDT, Hurricane Maria was located 320 miles east of Nassau, Bahamas, moving north-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph. Maria is now a major hurricane as it bears down on the Leeward Islands
The current National Hurricane Center (NHC) 5-day forecast looks conservative, though they are likely waiting for the afternoon forecast models to update. The most recent ensemble models (from earlier this morning) have Maria going further west than a few days ago. This is because of the recent demise of Jose, which is allowing the ridge over the central Atlantic to build west. This will yield a track with a closer approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A ridge extending the southeast U.S. will also retreat north. These factors will converge, leading to slower forward motion by mid-week. By midweek, a strong low pressure system is expected to build across the Plains. First, it will provide some relief to the above normal temps across the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, it will steer Maria away from the coast, ushering in its extratropical transition.
Regarding intensification, conditions remain moderately favorable with warm sea surface temps and generally favorable winds aloft. However, Maria will begin to encounter increasing vertical wind shear and cool sea surface temperature. Maria is expected to intensify through tomorrow with a gradual weakening trend forecast into next week.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT: