Slow Nate and Speedy Maria in Atlantic Basin

September 9, 2011; 10:11 AM ET
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Nate and Maria in the Atlantic basin are like night and day in terms of personality. However, both systems remain a concern for the United States and other areas.

Both features will fluctuate in intensity during the next few days. Maria may drop below tropical storm status at times, while Nate could get an upgrade.

Regardless, both will still need to be watched.

No-Hurry Nate

Nate remains in weak steering currents in the Gulf of Mexico, which render reliable path projections nearly impossible beyond a few days.

According to Hurricane Coordinator Dan Kottlowski, "Nate is a very slow-moving system at this point, but is showing signs of strengthening."

It is appearing more and more likely that Nate will take a more westerly path, heading toward Mexico.

Unfortunately, with a more westerly track, it does not appear likely that Texas will get the much-needed rain.

Fast Maria

Fast-moving Maria will take a track west of Katia. How far west is the problem.

The last thing anyone wants is a track similar to Irene, which would raise new flooding concerns, among other things, from the Antilles to the Bahamas and much of the East Coast of the U.S.

Maria is already situated in a steering flow that is farther to the south and west than Katia.

"Wind shear, the current fast movement of the storm, and its eventual interaction with part of the Antilles will limit its strength into the weekend," Kottlowski said.

A channel remains for Maria to later turn northward, which it should take advantage of, avoiding the Gulf of Mexico. This northward curve could begin this weekend, or sometime next week.

There is plenty of room for Maria to take the turn sooner than what Irene did, and curve out like Katia is forecast to do.

The consensus among meteorologists is that Maria is "not" likely to become a powerful hurricane before hitting the Antilles. However, even a mere tropical storm can do tremendous damage in terms of rainfall, as evidenced by Irene and Lee.

"We would not be surprised if Maria tries to strengthen to the north and east of the Bahamas early next week," Kottlowski commented.

Kottlowski does offer some hope for folks blasted by damaging wind, waves and flooding along the Atlantic Seaboard recently.

"It appears that the same jet stream pattern that helped to create the flooding situation with Lee would tend to sweep Maria out to sea," Kottlowski said.

Millions of people can only hope that to be the case.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands are being displaced by flooding this week in the mid-Atlantic from part of Lee's remnants.


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