If you’re looking at the forecast models for Hurricane Maria, remember: It’s still way too early to tell whether the storm will hit North Carolina. But rip currents can be expected along the coast next week.
The storm was upgraded to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane Monday and continued to strengthen to a Category 5 by 7:45 p.m. on Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Some models show Maria moving northwest toward the Carolinas; others show it heading west toward the Gulf of Mexico or even north of Bermuda, according to Nick Petro from the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
“There are too many possibilities right now,” Petro said when asked about an accurate prediction of how Maria could affect the U.S. mainland.
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But even if Maria stays hundreds of miles east of North Carolina, rip currents on the coast are guaranteed, he said.
Hurricane Maria is expected to move across the already battered Leeward Islands Monday night and is headed toward the Bahamas, where it could arrive as early as Friday morning.
The hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 mph Monday afternoon, is expected to rapidly strengthen within the next 48 hours.
The British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are all within the cone of Maria’s probable path through the week.