Hurricane Maria maintained a category 3 status Saturday morning, slowly moving north and away from the Bahamas with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. While Maria is not expected to impact any landmass for the next several days, concerns of some type of impact along the southeastern U.S. coast are growing after the latest model runs.
In a manner similar to Hurricane Jose, Maria will drop out of the strong upper-level winds of the jet stream, trapping the storm and preventing its escape out to sea for several days. During that time, Maria will be hovering a bit too close for comfort to the Carolina coastline.
Most global model members keep Maria meandering off shore and away from the East Coast, showing the storm eventually getting picked up by a cold front Friday and pushed out to sea. However, the exact position of Maria’s stall is uncertain, and recent model trends have placed the storm further to the west and closer to the Carolina coast, prompting the NHC to shift their official track in the 11 a.m. update.
— Philippe Papin (@pppapin) September 23, 2017
Changes in Maria’s track will need to be monitored closely over the next few days. In particular, the exact strength and position of two high-pressure features by early next week will dictate just how close Maria will get the East Coast.
Through the weekend, Maria’s impacts to the East Coast will be limited with the NHC’s stating that “dangerous surf and rip currents (are) expected at southeastern United States beaches for the next several days.” Regardless of the exact track, Maria should track closely enough for tropical storm force conditions to impact the outer banks by early next week.