Hurricane Maria’s latest probable track from the National Hurricane Center keeps the deadly storm in the Atlantic south and east of North Carolina on Monday afternoon. But a government research meteorologist flying over the storm on Wednesday night cautioned people to remain alert as the track could change.
“Right now, for the time being, it looks like the United States might – and I emphasize ‘might’ – be lucky and avoid the storm,” Richard Henning of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration told CNN. “But everyone from North Carolina up to New England needs to pay very close attention over the next few days.
“What happens with Hurricane Jose will affect where Maria goes,” Henning said, referring to the now-tropical storm southeast of New England.
Maria knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. At 11 p.m., the core of the hurricane was moving away from Puerto Rico, but torrential rains continued. The hurricane center said conditions were deteriorating over eastern Dominican Republic and were expected to worsen soon in the Turk and Caicos Islands. Maria had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph as a Category 4 hurricane.
While the storm’s latest track has it not making landfall in the United States, a couple of things make WBTV meteorologist Al Conklin “just a little nervous” about that forecast.
Some of the most reliable models suggested Maria would miss Puerto Rico to the north, he said.
“And think back to Irma,” Conklin said. “Irma was once forecast to pass north of Puerto Rico by 600 miles, according to the Global Forecast Solution model. It didn’t. And right up until landfall in the Florida Keys, the forecast was always adjusting Irma to the west. West, west, west.”
Finally, Conklin said, Jose is still in the mid-Atlantic south of New England. “Jose was supposed to be 600 miles off the North Carolina coast Tuesday as it pushed north,” he said. “Jose was instead 200 miles or so and the Outer Banks got blasted with rain and wind. The Outer Banks even had streets covered up in sand and sea water.”
“I think it would be foolish to turn our back on Maria at this point, thinking of it as a ‘fish storm,’ ” Conklin advised on Wednesday. “It’s way too early in the game to do that.”