Tranquil weather remains in place across south Florida as the new week begins. High pressure is providing mostly dry air and stable conditions. Winds have also been decreasing (from where we started the weekend). Our main focus this week will be on the distant tropics. In particular, Tropical Storm Maria is being monitored. It’s expected to become a hurricane between late Sunday and Monday. Adding to the concern is the fact that Maria is poised to move over many of the same Caribbean islands hit hard by Irma, recently. The Leeward Islands (northernmost Lesser Antilles) are under a hurricane watch and that will likely be upgraded soon. Maria will rake across the islands from Monday through Tuesday as a category 1 or category 2 hurricane. After that, more strengthening is in the forecast… and Puerto Rico (as well as the Dominican Republic) could get a direct strike as a major hurricane. Eventually, the models and forecast cone suggest a track in the direction of the Bahamas. What remains unclear, however, is “if and when” the system may take a turn northward. At this point, the consensus is for a vital turn to happen east of the Bahamas…which would keep the United States free of a strike. Still, it’s too early to speculate much and steering currents have the ability to change. We’ll watch carefully. Elsewhere in the tropics, Jose is whipping up the waves off the east coast of the U.S. but it’s not projected to directly impact land. Finally, Tropical Storm Lee is in the eastern Atlantic with a weakening trend expected. Lee may have a short tropical life of just a few more days. Stay tuned as the “heart of hurricane season” continues.
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