Early recon suggests Maria has more thunderstorm activity on the Northern side of the storm but still remains a disheveled looking system.
Hurricane hunters also found light winds on the West and Southwest sectors of Maria. They clocked 45 mph winds on the Eastern side, but could not detect a well defined center of circulation. This is not a well organized system.
So why are they still keeping it as a Tropical Storm?
NHC says recon found flight level winds indicating there is still a broad circulation and so they will keep it as a storm.
Recon has yet to analyze the northern end of Maria where they believe the strongest winds will be found.
There are the things still working against Maria:
- An upper low ahead of it is causing shear and keeping Maria weak. This low should remain for another 2-3 days.
- Dry air is moving in from the South
What Maria has in its favor:
- Determination. If it can survive all these roadblocks, shear will relax in the long haul and it could get stronger.
- Models now have it becoming a hurricane on Tuesday
The models keep pushing Maria through the islands and ultimately making a turn north over the Southeastern Bahamas. At this stage, wind will not be a problem but the rain will be. From the Leewards though Puerto Rico, flooding from heavy rain could be a threat.
The official forecast cone tracks Maria over most of the Lesser Antilles and then push it to the Northwestern Bahamas. South Florida is NOT in the cone, but we should keep our eyes on it, just in case it decides to surprise us.
Aside from Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings, there is also the concern for flooding for the islands. Puerto Rico has issued the following statement.
- THERE IS A SERIOUS CONCERN FOR A SIGNIFICANT HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLASH FLOODING EVENT ACROSS THE REGION DUE TO RECENT HEAVY RAINS FROM IRENE. THERE IS ALSO A CONCERN FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGING WINDS TO THE NORTH AND EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER TRACKS.
- REGARDING THE COASTAL WATERS UNDER A WATCH...SMALL CRAFT SHOULD RETURN TO PORT OR SEEK SAFE HARBOR.
We'll keep watching it.