The Caribbean is facing more destruction as Hurricane Maria moves along roughly the same path as Irma did earlier this month. Authorities are currently advising against any travel to the British Virgin Islands in the wake of the powerful storm.
Maria has now been downgraded to a category four hurricane after hitting Dominica, but the US National Hurricane Center warns the intensity of the storm is likely to fluctuate over the course of the next day or so, and it is forecast to remain a category four or five on its approach to the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Hurricane warnings remain in place for Guadeloupe, ST Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where Maria is expected to make landfall as at least a category three storm.
Anybody planning travel to the area for the remainder of the week is recommended to check the status of their flights and conditions at their destination prior to departure. Those already in the area are advised to follow all safety orders given by local authorities.
Hurricane Maria’s long-term fate will likely not be the same as Irma, partially thanks to an alleyway Hurricane Jose will help create in the western Atlantic.
By late this week, Maria should be located near or just north of the Dominican Republic. Instead of a continued west-northwest motion like we saw with Irma, Maria will likely begin to turn more to the north-northwest.
The forecast for a more north than west motion later this week is due to a weakness in the steering flow over the western Atlantic that a stalled Jose well off the East Coast has a hand in creating.
If Jose stalls as forecasted, it will temporarily block an area of high pressure over the eastern U.S. from moving farther east. If that high were able to build east faster, it would likely send Maria on a more west-northwest path toward the U.S.
Instead, Maria will gain latitude in between that eastern U.S. high-pressure system and another area of high pressure located to Maria’s east in the Atlantic Ocean.
This does not mean the East Coast of the U.S. is off the hook from a potential impact from Maria, however. It’s too soon to determine how close Maria will move in relation to the Eastern Seaboard as it turns north, and therefore, all residents should continue to monitor Maria’s progress. Any potential impact from Maria in the mainland U.S. would not be until early next week if it occurs at all.