(WFLA) – A depression formed Saturday in the Atlantic Ocean and strengthened into Tropical Storm Maria, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Tropical Storm Maria has developed east of the Lesser Antilles. The storm is expected to further intensify in the next few days into what could be another major hurricane,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Ian Oliver and Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve.
According to the NHC, the storm is packing maximum sustained winds of over 50 mph and is moving at 16 mph.
As of 11 p.m. Saturday, Maria is about 545 miles southeast of the Leser Antilles and is moving west toward the Caribbean.
“This storm is a big concern for many islands already impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Ian. “Forecast models long-term suggest a turn to the north before reaching Florida, but it’s still a long way out and we will, of course, have a close eye on it.”
Maria is expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it nears the Leeward Islands on Monday.
A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for the following places:
- St. Kitts
- St. Maarten
- Saba and St. Eustatius
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the following islands:
- St. Lucia
- Martinique and Guadeloupe
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines