Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic, and many are now wondering where the storm will be heading to next in the Caribbean. Could the U.S. coast, including Florida, eventually be in its path? Hurricanes can be quite unpredictable at this stage, but some forecasts and models are predicting the storm may end up in Florida, after impacting Puerto Rico, Haiti, and other regions first.
The map above shows a cone estimating the probable path of the center of Irma. It does not reflect the size of the storm. Any predicted hurricane warnings are in red above, and tropical storm warnings are in blue. Hurricane watches are in pink and tropical storm watches are in yellow. As you can see, the cone does not yet extend to the United States or Florida, because the hurricane is still far away.
As of 2 p.m., Maria had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. She’s located at 13.6 N, 56.9 W, moving WNW at 15 mph, with minimum central pressure of 994 MB.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center has Maria reaching the Leeward Islands by Monday night. By Wednesday, she could be hitting Puerto Rico as a Category 3, if current predictions are correct. Florida doesn’t even have tropical storm warnings issued yet, because Maria is still so far out in the ocean.
Next is the another map from the National Hurricane Center estimating where the center of the storm will go.
Here’s another look at the storm’s potential path through Friday:
Here’s an earlier spaghetti model for Maria. Spaghetti models currently show the storm heading in the general direction of the United States. A few paths show it impacting Florida, but other paths show the storm’s more likely to hit the coast farther up north or possibly even go back out to sea. See more discussion about spaghetti models here.
And some GFS models are showing a potential Florida hit:
Different models are showing different stories. One prediction shows Maria interacting with Jose next weekend:
But remember: it’s far too early in the storm’s development to know for sure where it will end up. If Maria’s path shifts north, as some are expecting, then she could miss Florida entirely. But if she continues east, Florida could be in her path. Projections this far out can be off by hundreds of miles.
Here’s an experimental map showing when tropical storm force winds will arrive next. Even this far out, Florida isn’t expected to experience even tropical strength winds by Thursday. But regions in the Caribbean could be in for a rougher ride this week.
Wind speed probabilities can be viewed in this map. These are probabilities for 8 a.m. Sunday through 8 a.m. Friday, over the course of 120 hours.
The storm is organized and low in pressure, which favors strengthening:
Watch Heavy for more details about Maria’s progress and latest tracks.