GREENSBORO, NC - Maria is heading north, leaving Puerto Rico badly damaged. North Carolina will need to keep a close eye on this system heading into early next week. It's likely to be too close for comfort sitting off our coast by Monday.
Maria is a weaker hurricane now than it was before hitting Puerto Rico. The storm's winds dropped off to 115 mph on Wednesday afternoon; category 3 strength. It's still a strong storm, and it's likely to regain some strength in the coming days as it moves northwest toward the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The hurricane will move northwest through this weekend, putting the center somewhere just east of the Bahamas by Saturday evening. After that, Maria will begin to turn to the north, being partially steered by Jose which will still be in the New England area.
This northward motion will send Maria nearly due north for some time, but it's unclear exactly how close the U.S. coast, and the North Carolina coast, the storm will track. Just how close the storm is to our beaches will determine whether or not there are any impacts here in North Carolina from the storm.
While it's still too early to know the exact impacts in North Carolina, it is very unlikely that the Piedmont will see any direct impacts from the storm. The coast will certainly have high surf and rip currents building in by the end of the weekend, but whether or not any high winds or rain move ashore is unclear at this time.
We'll keep you updated on Hurricane Maria as we head through rest of the week. We'll be able to nail down more details on Maria's final destination by this weekend.
Since it's hurricane season it's a good idea to make sure you have a hurricane kit together and a hurricane plan in place, just in case. Even if we don't have to deal with Maria, it's good to be prepared for the rest of this hurricane season, and for future seasons to come.