MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hurricane Maria is still a powerful category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph, but it's starting to show signs of weakening. Wind shear is starting to have impacts on the storm and a slow weakening over the next 48 hours is expected as it moves NW at a slow 7 mph.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane center calls for Maria to brush the Turks and Caicos Islands in the southern Bahamas through Friday. A sharper turn to the north is expected by Sunday and Monday, with Maria passing 400 to 500 miles off of the Carolina coast.
Based on the latest forecast track, Maria is forecast to pass 200 to 500 miles east of the South Carolina coast. This would limit any impacts on the Grand Strand to just rough surf and a dangerous rip current threat. The threat of rip currents and rough surf will begin to increase through the weekend. While Maria will likely regain some strength the next few days, cooler water, wind shear and dry air will likely cause another weakening trend through early next week.
While forecast models are confident on Maria moving well east of the SC coast, more uncertainty arises by the late part of next week. Several forecast models are showing Maria just meandering or even stalling off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While this may lead to gusty winds and rain for parts of the NC coast, no direct or damaging impacts are expected.