Right Behind Irma, Here Comes Hurricane Maria

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FORBES – Hurricane Irma may be gone, but the 2017 hurricane season clearly isn’t done yet. Tropical Storm Maria has formed in the Atlantic and is now advancing on the same islands that took the brunt of Irma’s wrath.

The storm’s forecast track, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), has it strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands early next week.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and the tiny, Irma-devastated island of Barbuda.

While it appears unlikely right now that Maria will soon strengthen into the category 5 monster that Irma was when it walloped the Caribbean, it could still bring a three to five-foot storm surge.

But most disturbing are forecasts that this latest storm could dump up to eight inches of rain in the northern Leeward Islands (including the Virgin Islands) and as much as 20 inches of total rainfall in the central and southern Leewards (including Barbuda). The NHC warns the rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. And that’s to say nothing of how a fresh downpour could hamper current Irma recovery efforts.

As if all this weren’t enough, another Tropical Storm named Lee is lurking in the Atlantic behind Maria, slowly but ominously moving to the west. Fortunately, for the moment, it does not appear to be strengthening in intensity.

Finally, let’s not forget about Hurricane Jose, which is currently about 500 miles off the coast of North Carolina and slowly lumbering north with 80 mph winds, according to the NHC. While Jose doesn’t seem to be threatening to blow into town anywhere any time soon, it could cause dangerous surf and rip currents along portions of the east coast for the next several days.

The main takeaway here: don’t take your eyes off the Atlantic just yet.