Hurricane Maria still a Menace to Florida and U.S. East Coast

Hurricane Maria NOAA 9-25-17

The hurricane season of 2017 may go down in history as one of the most costly and devastating of all time. Though Autumn may officially be upon us, the named storms are continuing to drum up seas and force attentions to turn toward the Atlantic.

Hurricane Maria has caused widespread devastation along its path, including a crushing blow to Puerto Rico, where the entire U.S. territory lost power. Rescue efforts continue to help citizens with critical needs.

For the last week or more, most of the forecast models showed Hurricane Maria making a decisively northern turn and staying well away from the East coast of Florida. Unfortunately, the fickle storm decided to migrate closer to our Irma-bruised state.

The concern at this time is not necessarily landfall in Florida, but rather rip tides with high surf advisories. The seas are expected to swell to 7-10 feet beginning today and could last until Wednesday, or possibly longer if Maria slows.

The storm remains a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds at 80 mph, but the National Hurricane Center in Miami predicts it will weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday evening.

As of this time, forecasters believe the Carolinas may bear the brunt of Maria along the eastern U.S. The storm’s outer bands stand to graze the North Carolina coast Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Dangerous seas, gusty winds, rain, and flooding can be expected along coastal areas.

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper urged visitors to the Outer Banks and along the coast to avoid beaches until Maria passes and watches and warnings have cleared, “Coastal residents should make sure they are ready and their homes are prepared.”

Maria’s stirring in the Atlantic reminds that extra caution should be taken from South Florida through the mid-Atlantic states. Stay away from ocean water that is more than knee-deep to help prevent getting caught in rip-tides and avoid beaches where storm watches or warnings are present.

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