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By Peter Vankevich
Hurricane Maria has begun a slow trek north still as a Category 3, though is expected to decrease in strength. It was hoped that the storm would remain well out to sea, but the National Weather Service out of Newport/Morehead City Saturday evening (Sept. 23) said the hurricane’s track is expected to shift westward and possibly stall for a while early to the middle of next week.
Tropical storm-force wind probabilities have increased across Dare and Hyde counties, and the entire Outer Banks are now within the western part of the forecast cone as the National Weather Service said it is becoming increasingly likely that some impacts will occur along portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast next week.
A forecast cone indicates the center of the storm will most likely pass, but impacts from hurricanes extend well away from the center. Those living near, not just inside the cone, should be prepared for possible impacts.
Swells generated by Maria are already increasing along portions of the southeastern United States coast and Bermuda.
Even if the center of Maria remains offshore, rough surf, a high risk for rip currents, beach erosion and ocean over wash are probable. Suspended ferry service may be possible during this time.
Maria made landfall Sept. 19 in Dominica as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 160 mph and was the strongest storm to ever strike the island.
The following day, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph, becoming the strongest to hit the territory since 1928.
Both islands have been devastated by this storm, leaving Puerto Rico entirely without electric power and its electrical grid being described as having been totally destroyed. The full extent of the extensive damage and casualties are yet be determined.