Three storms brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are gaining strength, prompting hurricane watches and warnings across the Caribbean on Sunday.
Tropical Storm Maria is expected to develop into a hurricane later in the day and continue to gain strength over the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center warned Sunday at 11 a.m.
The likelihood of Maria bringing storm surge, high rainfall totals and dangerous wind speeds has prompted a hurricane warning in Dominica and a tropical storm warning in St. Lucia. Hurricane and tropical storm watches, which are issued when storm conditions are possible but not necessarily expected, remain in place across several Caribbean island nations.
The threat comes just days after Hurricane Irma ripped through the Atlantic, causing mass destruction in several Caribbean communities and throughout much of Florida.
The Leeward Islands will likely take the first hit as Maria moves west-northwest with maximum sustained wind speeds near 65 miles per hour, the NHC warned.
“Hurricane conditions are first expected within portions of the Leeward Islands by Monday night, with tropical storm conditions beginning on Monday,” the center said.
“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands.”
Over the next several days, the storm may bring isolated instances of 20 inches of rain to the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose has gained some strength but remains a Category 1 hurricane with no effective watches or warnings associated with it. But that could change in the coming days.
“Interests from North Carolina northward to New England on the east coast of the United States should monitor the progress of this system,” the NHC warned Sunday morning. “Tropical storm watches may be needed for portions of this area during the next day or so.”
Potentially dangerous swells associated with Jose are already affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas and much of the east coast of the U.S.