Maria could become Cat 1 hurricane, come close to NC

Posted September 9, 2011 2:39 a.m. EDT
Updated September 9, 2011 1:43 p.m. EDT

— Tropical Storm Maria is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane next week and could come close to North Carolina's coast, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center's forecast models show the storm passing east of the U.S., but Moss says it's still important to pay attention to the storm.

"It’s a close enough call right now that we’ll need to continue to watch that and see how that track progresses," he said. "It’s not looking like a real well-organized system just yet, but it may get a little bit stronger over the next few days."

Maria was more than 2,100 miles from Raleigh Friday morning and is expected to pass to the north of the Bahamas next Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

The National Hurricane Center says Maria's maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph early Friday.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for a host of islands: Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, St. Maartin, Saba and St. Eustatius.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for St. Barthelemy, St. Marteen, Martinique, Dominica, and Puerto Rico including Vieques and Culebra.

Meanwhile, Nate has prompted a tropical storm warning on Mexico's coast from Chilitepec to Celestun. Nate's winds are near 65 mph, and the storm could become a hurricane.