A tropical storm watch was issued Sunday from Surf City to the border of North Carolina and Virginia.
A storm surge watch has been issued for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout northward to Duck.
Maria could move over the seas stirred up by former Hurricane Jose, which could decrease sea surface temperatures and give the storm less fuel to work with.
In its 5 a.m. advisory, the NHC said Lee had maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour and was traveling south at 1 p.m.
Even if Maria tracks just offshore of the US, seas, surf and rip currents will increase from south to north along the Atlantic Seaboard through next week.
The storm, which killed 13 people in Puerto Rico and is causing storm swells on the east coast of the U.S., is forecast to merge with Hurricane Lee north of Bermuda. The storm is moving northwest and should eventually make more of a northerly turn as we go into the weekend.
The Category 3 storm is carrying maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is 245 miles east of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. While high temperatures are expected to top out in the 80s again today (typical highs should be in the low 70s), the dew points are expected to fall back into the 50s and maybe even some 40s.
Steward said winds coming out of the Southeast by mid-week will dictate how close Maria comes to North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center forecast cone that we show on WECT products is the official and best resource for storm intensity and track information.
Expect rip currents and heavy surf for most of the week. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 240 miles.