FIRST ALERT: Eye of Hurricane Maria getting dangerously close to - | WBTV Charlotte

FIRST ALERT: Eye of Hurricane Maria getting dangerously close to St Croix

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

11 P.M. UPDATE:

Eye of Maria getting dangerously close to St Croix

LOCATION...17.3N 64.7W
ABOUT 30 MI...45 KM SSE OF ST. CROIX
ABOUT 120 MI...190 KM SE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...175 MPH...280 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...909 MB...26.85 INCHES

Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h).  A west-northwest to northwest motion is expected to continue through Wednesday night, followed by a northwestward motion on Thursday.  On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move near or over St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands within the next couple of hours, then cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and Thursday. 

Maximum sustained winds are near 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher gusts.  Maria is a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity could occur before the hurricane reaches Puerto Rico, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane as it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  Slow weakening is expected after the hurricane emerges over the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

Reports from reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the area of hurricane-force winds has increased in size.  Hurricane-force winds now extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km).

8 P.M. UPDATE:

Maria continues to be a monster storm as it heads closer to the US Virgin Islands. Maximum sustained winds are 175mph, with higher gusts. The storm is moving WNW at 10mph. The storm will maintain its current winds or even get a bit stronger by the time it makes landfall. The eye will move very close to St Croix tonight. It will cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday. 

The storm is very strong but very compact. Hurricane force winds extend out 35 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds extend 140 miles out. 

The storm is expected to weaken just a tad after it moves across Puerto Rico and back out over open water. However, it will only scale back to a still destructive category 4 storm. 

From there, there will be eventual weakening as Maria moves farther north. It should be a category 4 through Friday. Then a 3 by Saturday and a 2 by Sunday. As of now, models are keeping the storm away from the US mainland. 

- Meteorologist Leigh Brock

5 P.M. UPDATE:

Hurricane Maria – Cat 5 moving toward the US Virgin Islands

LOCATION...16.8N 64.0W
ABOUT 80 MI...130 KM SE OF ST. CROIX
ABOUT 175 MI...285 KM SE OF SAN JUAN PUERTO RICO
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...165 MPH...270 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...916 MB...27.05 INCHES

Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday night.  On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move near or over the U. S. Virgin Islands tonight, cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and then pass just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and Thursday.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 165 mph (270 km/h) with higher gusts.  Maria is a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or so, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane as it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  Slow weakening is expected after the hurricane emerges over the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).

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11 A.M. UPDATE: 

For the third time in as many weeks, a major and possibly catastrophic hurricane is churning in the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Maria strengthened on Tuesday morning and has regained Category 5 status.

LOCATION...16.3N 63.1W

ABOUT 115 MI...180 KM W OF GUADELOUPE

ABOUT 150 MI...240 KM SE OF ST. CROIX

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...160 MPH...260 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...927 MB...27.37 INCHES

Hurricane Maria continues a West/Northwesterly track and will continue to move across the open waters of the Caribbean as it moves closer to Puerto Rico. This trajectory over very warm sea surface temperatures will allow Maria to maintain intensity. If the current forecast track holds true, Hurricane Maria will make landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday morning. The governor of Puerto Rico said that a direct hit could have catastrophic impact on the island's infrastructure.

Interaction with the Puerto Rican landmass will sap Maria of some of her power, and the latest forecast track has the storm making a northerly turn shortly after exiting the island. Right now, most of the global models are in agreement and take Maria north and away from the East Coast of the United States. Again this is Tuesday afternoon and we are still a day away from that projected turn to the north.

As with all hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea, those interested in the potential impact in the United States should keep a vigilant eye on the forecast.  We will have the latest guidance coming up today at 5 p.m. on WBTV News.

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5:30 A.M. - Extremely dangerous Category 5 Hurricane Maria headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

Location: 16.0N, 62.3W

About 25 miles, 100 kilometers WSW of Guadeloupe

About 202 miles, 325 kilometers of St. Croix

Maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, 250 km/h

Present movement: WNW or 300 degrees at 9 mph, 15 km/h

Minimum central pressure: 934 mb, 27.58 inches

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The last few days of summer will live up to their name. We will continue to have warm and dry weather for most of the rest of this week. Highs will be in the mid to upper 80s most days, above the average of 80 degrees.

The real action is in the tropics. We are tracking Jose, which is currently a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds. Jose continues to move to the north over the open waters of the Atlantic, but gusty winds and showers are still blowing along coastal sections of the mid-Atlantic region.

Then there is Maria. This storm quickly strengthened to a major hurricane with 160 mph winds, now moving W-NW at 9 mph as a Category 5 storm. 

Unfortunately, Maria is heading to many areas which were hit by Hurricane Irma just a week ago. The storm seems to be just slightly more to the south of Irma so places such as Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands won't likely see the eye wall come over again. However, they will see tropical storm to hurricane force winds once again. That is the last thing they need, with so much damage already there. Maria's more likely target would be the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

We all continue to watch it and hope for the best.

PREVIOUS: FIRST ALERT: Maria upgraded to 'extremely dangerous' category 5 hurricane

- Meteorologist Al Conklin 

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