Maria graduated to hurricane status at about 5 P.M. EST Saturday evening, with sustained winds of 75 mph, turning this once tropical storm into a Category 1 hurricane. At the time, Maria was moving northwest at 15 mph. The hurricane was located about 140 miles east northeast of Barbados and 275 miles from the island of Dominica.
On Sunday, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda issued a hurricane warning for St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat. The U.S. and British Virgin Islands have been issued a Hurricane Watch.
Hurricane Maria started up picking up stream in the Atlantic on Sunday, as she heads towards the Caribbean already devastated by Irma. Meanwhile, as Florida is reeling from the last hurricane, there is concern that Maria may develop into a hurricane herself before possibly making landfall in the Sunshine State.
Update (9/17/17; 5:00 P.M. EST): Maria has officially upgraded to hurricane status, according to USA Today.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria is likely to upgrade to hurricane status sometime on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds predicted to be as high as 74 mph. By Sunday afternoon, Maria already had maximum sustained winds up to 65 mph. A tropical storm warning is currently in effect in Martinique and St. Lucia. Meanwhile, a hurricane warning has been sent out to people living in Dominica and Guadeloupe.
As of an hour ago, Tropical Storm Maria was roughly 400 miles east southeast of the Leeward Islands and more than 600 miles from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “It is moving along very quickly, which is concerning,” AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel said. “They are going to have a direct hit from a hurricane. The question is how strong will it be.”
Tropical Storm Maria 2017: Forecast, Map, Path & Live Updates
By Monday and Tuesday night, the islands of of Dominica and Guadeloupe are expected to be hit by Maria. At that point, meteorologists predict that she will be a Category 2 hurricane, with sustained winds of 96-110 mph. Maria is expected to strike the U.S. Virgin Islands next (a day after hitting Dominica and Guadeloupe). “And it will likely be a stronger hurricane by at least a category,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel.
By next weekend, meteorologists predict that Hurricane Maria will hit the Bahamas, driving it dangerously close to Florida. The Sunshine State is still repairing itself after the damage brought about by Irma. There is always a chance that hurricane may go off course and head north, according to AccuWeather’s Dave Samuhel. “We may luck out and it turns north,” he said. “Unfortunately it looks like a blocking high pressure system could force it into Florida.”
By Monday night or Tuesday, Hurricane Maria may affect Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla, according to the NHC.
Meanwhile on Monday, tropical storm conditions may touch down on St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Here’s a look Tropical Storm Maria’s wind speed probabilities…