FORT MYERS, Fla. Hurricane Maria maintained its status as a Category 5 storm Tuesday as the system moved towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said.
But it’s unlikely to follow Irma’s path, WINK Chief Meteorologist Jim Farrell said.
“We are not worried about it affecting Southwest Florida,” Farrell said.
The system has maximum sustained winds at 175 mph and is moving west-northwest at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory. The system is about 30 miles south-southeast of St. Croix.
Maria weakened briefly into a Category 4 storm, but regained strength as a Category 5 after the 5 a.m. advisory around 5:10 a.m.
The influence of Hurricane Jose to the north will help steer Maria away from Florida, WINK meteorologist Matt Devitt said.
Still, areas in the Caribbean are in Maria’s path.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, Vieques, and from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, the National Hurricane Center said.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Guadeloupe, west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Anguilla, and from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano, the National Hurricane Center said.