A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Dominica as a weakened Tropical Storm Maria continues to speed across the Tropical Atlantic. Rain bands associated with this storm are already affecting the southern portion of the Lesser Antilles.
At 5 am, the center of Tropical Storm Maria was located near latitude 13.8 north, longitude 56.2 west about 320 miles east of Saint Lucia or 360 miles east southeast of Dominica.
Maria is moving toward the west northwest near 18 mph and this motion is expected to continue during the next 24 to 36 hours.
On the forecast track the center of Maria is expected to pass very close to Dominica by later tonight into early Saturday morning, accompanied by pockets of moderate to heavy showers, scattered thunderstorms and storm force winds. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles mainly to the north of the center. Some slight strengthening is possible during the next 48 hours. Models are forecasting Maria to remain a minimal Tropical Storm as it moves across Dominica. Tropical storm watches are in effect for Dominica, Martinique and Puerto Rico and tropical storm warnings has been issued for Guadeloupe, St Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis and The BVIs.
Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area by later today as feeder bands from Maria are expected to begin spreading across the island. Sea swells will be a major concern and are expected to peak up to 5.0 metres by today into Saturday across the island. Reports from buoys east of Dominica indicate that swells will be in excess of 5 meters (16 feet).
All users of the sea and residents in coastal areas, especially on the northern and eastern coastlines are advised to take all the necessary precautions.
Residents in Dominica are advised to begin preparations for the approach of Tropical Storm Maria.