Track of Cat 3 Maria shifts closer to U.S. coast

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While Maria may wander close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it will stir up unsafe seas all along the U.S. East Coast beaches through next week.

While what was once Hurricane Jose has finally fizzled, Maria remains a formidable Category 3 hurricane early Saturday, on a north-northwest track through the open waters of the southwest Atlantic. It is also a comfortable evening with temperatures in the 60s and lower 70s at this hour. It was a Category 3 hurricane that caught many New Englanders by surprise.

After reaching the top intensity rating in the Caribbean earlier this week, Hurricane Maria is weaker but heading north on an uncertain track that could lead to a tropical storm or hurricane watch here as soon as Sunday, the National Hurricane Center says. It was moving northwest at 8 miles per hour.

Although Maria's eye has grown ragged, the National Hurricane Center said it is keeping the intensity at 125 miles per hour pending information from upcoming hurricane hunter flights into the storm.

The latest forecast from NHC states tracked Maria about 420 miles east-southeast of Nassau.

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Some of the islands hit the hardest by the major hurricane were Dominica, Guadalupe, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but several others countries including the Dominican Republic Turks and Caicos and portions of the Bahamas may have considerable damage.

The track of Hurricane Maria has made a slight shift westward, increasing the probability of Tropical storm force winds for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands next week, per the Saturday morning update from the National Weather Service Newport / Morehead City Office.

A new front moving in after Thursday, though, could kick Maria quickly out to sea. The models are suggesting Maria will move northward along the western side of an Atlantic ridge of high pressure then it will get nudged to the east by an approaching trough of low pressure that will develop over the Midwest and Eastern United States. As of now it looks like the storm will not strike the USA mainland. Monday should be partly to mostly sunny with highs 85-90 once again.

While Sunday is likely to be the hottest day of the forecast, the warmth and humidity should remain firmly in place through the first half of next week.

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