HOLT, Fla., Sept. 17 2017–Tropical Storm Maria is expected to strengthen to a hurricane later today according to the National Hurricane Center.
Maria’s predicted path takes the storm near the Leeward Islands Monday night, areas devastated by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks ago, again bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards.
Hurricane or tropical storm warnings will likely be required for portions of these islands today.
Maria is traveling across environment favorable for continued strengthening for the next several days with low wind shear, a warm ocean and fairly moist air. A more rapid intensification is possible during the next couple of days, according to the NHC.
Maria could also affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by midweek as a major hurricane. Hurricane watches could be issued for these islands as early as tonight, according to the NHC.
Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph and is expected to continue on this track.
Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph with higher gusts.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee is moving slowly westward around 8 mph.
Additional weakening is expected, and Lee could become a remnant low by Tuesday.