Tropical storm conditions are likely to begin affecting St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as early as this evening (Sunday) as Maria nears hurricane intensity, forecasters say.
SVG remains under a tropical storm watch and while similar watches are in effect for A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, and Barbados.
Hurricane watches are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, and Anguilla.
The SVG Met Services said that 5 a.m. Sunday, the centre of Tropical Storm Maria was located 13.0 degrees north 54.9 degrees or about 365 miles (590km) to the east of SVG, moving westward-northwestward near 15 mph (24 km/h), and this motion with a further reduction in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.
The centre is expected to pass approximately 145 miles northeast, then north of SVG Monday afternoon nearing category 2 on the Saffir Simpson scale.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100km/h) with higher gusts and further strengthening is forecast. Minimum central pressure was 994 millibars or 29.36 inches.
As storm force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95km) from the centre, instability could begin affecting SVG Sunday evening with an increase in cloudiness, followed by pockets of moderate to heavy showers, periods of rain, thunderstorms and occasional gusty winds. Feeder bands are forecast to continue affecting the islands on Tuesday and Wednesday with rainfall accumulations up to 8 inches (200 mm) possible.
This afternoon, light variable winds are expected to increase possibly reaching near gale force 30-38 mph (47- 61 km/h) by Monday afternoon.
Strong westerly to south-westerly winds on Tuesday, decrease by Wednesday as Maria moves away from SVG.
Sea swells are expected to rise this afternoon peaking at 4 – 6 meters (13 ft -20 ft) by Monday, with life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Sea bathers and other users of the sea are advised to stay out of the water during the passage of Maria. A high-surf advisory and small craft warning remain in effect until 12-noon Tuesday.
The SVG Meteorological Services continue to monitor and will issue another advisory at 8 a.m.