Maria back to hurricane strength, now a Category 1 storm

Hurricane Lee strengthens into Category 2 storm

With some effects from Maria expected, officials issued mandatory evacuation orders Monday for visitors on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Tropical storm Lee is strengthening on its way toward the United States and will become the fifth major hurricane this year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory on Wednesday.

While Maria's most punishing hurricane-force winds remained offshore, tropical storm-force winds extended for as much as 230 miles from the center, churning up the surf on both sides of the islands.

As of the NHC's 11 a.m. ET update on Monday, Maria is a large storm with hurricane-force winds extending 90 miles from its center, though mostly to the East. Maria has sustained wind speeds of around 80 mph, with some higher gusts. Bulldozers were in place to push the sand off Highway 12 when water subsides.

Forecasters said that by the weekend these systems will have drifted away from the tropics, and as they lose connection with warmer tropical waters they will lose this source of energy and weaken rapidly as a result, adding that the waters in our latitudes of the North Atlantic are far too cool to sustain an actual hurricane.

That left locals to watch another storm chew up their beaches.

"We are nearly certainly looking at severe gales with perhaps storm-force gusts from Sunday into Monday". At low tide, a layer of wet sand covered the road. He works at an ice cream shop, which was closed, and she couldn't make it through the floods to her hotel desk job in Hatteras Village. "We seem to have more of our share recently, and I'm over it", Donna Bennett said.

The Jones Act is a little-known federal law that prohibits foreign-flagged ships from shuttling goods between US ports.

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