The storm has maintained its strength for the past 12 hours but still has the potential to intensify over the next 18 to 24 hours due to the warm waters surrounding the Bahamas combined with a favorable atmospheric environment. Currently, Maria features a tight, closed eye with intense convection, especially on the west side of the storm where cloud tops are exceeding -80 degrees C. This observation suggests intense lifting is ongoing, and thus intensification is possible. The outflow of Maria has matured and thus far has not been limited on any flank of the storm’s circulation.
After the next 24 hours, southwesterly shear will start to impact the structure of Hurricane Maria and a slow but steady weakening process will take place. Maria will likely max out in strength before this, and is not likely to reach Category 4 or 5 hurricane status again. Nevertheless, this powerful storm should remain a major hurricane for another 48 to 66 hours over the western Atlantic.
However, if the pull north from the remnants of Jose, or the cold front that is expected for the middle of next week, is delayed, then a track closer to the East Coast is possible. At this time though, the pattern does not support a direct landfall given the advancing trough and steering currents over the western Atlantic.
Rest of the Tropical Atlantic: