Tropical Storm Maria Expected to Rapidly Intensify On Approach to the Lesser Antilles; Hurricane Watches Expanded

 eather.com  9/17/2017 3:14:11 AM   Linda Lam and Jonathan Belles
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Tropical Storm Maria has developed in the central Atlantic.

This system is expected to strengthen into a hurricane on Sunday or Monday.

The Lesser Antilles will be impacted by this storm early week.

Tropical Storm Maria continues to develop east of the Lesser Antilles and is expected to quickly or rapidly strengthen over the next several days, posing yet another hurricane threat to the Lesser Antilles. 

Tropical Storm Maria is located less than 550 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and is moving west at 15-20 mph.

(MORE: Hurricane Central)

Atmospheric conditions should be favorable for quick or even rapid development and it is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane as Sunday night. 

Tropical Storm Maria is expected to move in a more west-northwestward direction over the next few days and will likely approach the Leeward Islands Monday.

Hurricane watches have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and Anguilla. Hurricane conditions are possible here on Monday night or Tuesday. 

Tropical storm watches have been posted for portions of the Lesser Antilles including, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Tropical storm conditions are possible here on Monday. 

Rainfall totals of 6 to 12 inches are possible in the central and southern Leeward Island through Tuesday night, with locally up to 20 inches in some spots. In the northern Leeward Islands, 2 to 4 inches of rain are likely, with isolated spots receiving 8 inches. 

A storm surge of 3 to 5 feet is expected from Barbuda and St. Kitts southward to Guadeloupe. 

High surf and dangerous rip currents are also expected by Sunday night in the Lesser Antilles.

Interests in the Caribbean should watch this system closely, especially locations in the northern Leeward Islands that were recently devastated by Hurricane Irma.

(MORE: Irma's Impacts in the Caribbean)

Check back with us at weather.com for updates on this system.

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