What had been Tropical Depression 14 reached tropical storm strength in the eastern Atlantic on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The 13th named storm of the 2011 hurricane season is Maria.
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Tropical Storm Maria was about 1,220 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands moving west at 23 mph with sustained winds of 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some slight strengthening is expected over the next two days, according to forecasters.
Maria remains far out at sea and there are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect because of the storm.
Under the latest forecast, the system would move over the northern Lesser Antilles on Saturday, north of Puerto Rico on Sunday and near the southern Bahamas on Monday. Whether it will pose a threat to the United States, it’s too early to say.
Because Maria is under attack from wind shear, it is no longer predicted to strengthen into a hurricane, at least over the next five days.
The hurricane center also is monitoring an area of low pressure in the southern Gulf of Mexico, giving it a 60 percent chance of developing over the next two days. A Hurricane Hunter aircraft was scheduled to investigate the system Wednesday afternoon if necessary.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday it was in the Atlantic about 320 miles southwest of Bermuda, lumbering northwest at 10 mph with sustained winds of 85 mph, or category 1 status. Katia is expected to pass between Bermuda and the East Coast of the U.S. Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Katia had been packing top winds of 135 mph, or category 4 strength, on Monday night. But it has been steadily weakening, and that trend is expected to continue as it moves into cooler waters.