Ocracoke and Hatteras islands have been forced to evacuate, ABC11 reported.
As of the last advisory from the hurricane center, at 4 p.m. CDT Sunday, Hurricane Maria was located about 425 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and was moving north at 9 mph. Maria is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 1 to 2 inches of rain over the Outer Banks of North Carolina through Wednesday.
"Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 80 miles per hour [130 km/h] with higher gusts".
The hurricane center said forecast models agree on this general scenario but differ on the timing and location of that curve.
A tropical storm watch was upgraded to a warning on Monday for areas from Cape Lookout to Duck, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds.
"Maria remains a large hurricane", the Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. update today.
Maria is a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.
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"Swells generated by Maria are increasing along portions of the southeastern United States coast and Bermuda and will be increasing along the Mid-Atlantic coast [Monday]", the NHC said.
The five-day tracking model shows Maria maintaining hurricane strength through Tuesday as it makes it way north before turning northeast and heading further out into the Atlantic.
The TS Kennedy, a former commercial freighter used by the Maritime Administration for training, is now sailing from Texas to the Virgin Islands to support hurricane recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico.
Wrightsville Beach saw more than 25 rescues because of rip currents Saturday. But Pearson said officials think between 10,000 and 12,500 people have left the island ahead of the storm.
We have seen some high clouds spun off of Maria, but won't see much in the way of effects from the once-catastrophic hurricane other than a light northerly breeze.
Maria's most devastating effects came when the storm slammed parts of the Caribbean, especially the islands of Dominica and Puerto Rico.
If that happens, Maria's impacts on Puerto Rico could easily reach $60 billion to $70 billion, Watson said.
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