A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from Surf City northward to the North Carolina/Virginia border, including the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds at 21:00 UTC (17:00 EDT) on Sunday, September 24, 2017. At the same time, a Storm Surge Watch has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout northward to Duck.
At 06:00 UTC (02:00 EDT) on Monday, September 25, the center of Hurricane "Maria" was located 610 km (380 miles) SSE of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The system is moving north at 11 km/h (7 mph) with maximum sustained winds of 135 km/h (85 mph), making Maria a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
The minimum central pressure recently reported by the Hurricane Hunter aircraft is 954 hPa. On September 24, Maria's pressure dropped to 941 hPa. This is the lowest pressure for an Atlantic hurricane with maximum sustained winds less and equal to 168 km/h (105 mph) since Hurricane "Sandy" of 2012, according to Dr. Philip Klotzbach. "Low pressure relative to that what would be expected given the max winds observed means that the storm is generally large in size."
Hurricane "Maria" and Hurricane "Lee" at 08:30 UTC on September 25, 2017. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16 (preliminary and non-operational)
On the current forecast track, the core of Hurricane "Maria" will move well east of the southeast coast of the United States during the next day or so.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 95 km (60 miles) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 370 km (230 miles).
Tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area beginning Tuesday, September 26.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:
Cape Lookout to Duck including the sound side of the Outer Banks: 0.6 - 1.2 m (2 - 4 feet).
Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle and can vary greatly over short distances.
Swells generated by Maria are increasing along portions of the southeastern United States coast and Bermuda and will be increasing along the Mid-Atlantic coast tonight and Monday (local time). Swell also continue to affect Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas.
These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Featured image: Hurricane "Maria" at 08:30 UTC on September 25, 2017. Credit: NOAA/GOES-16 (preliminary and non-operational)