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Just two weeks after Hurricane Irma plowed through Key West, the port has reopened to welcome much-needed cruise ships again. The Empress of the Seas, with 878 passengers arrived today.
USA TODAY

Hurricane Maria, now downgraded to a Category 1 storm with 80-mph winds, is forecast to brush North Carolina’s Outer Banks Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for visitors to Okracoke and Hatteras islands. 

Tropical storm warnings and watches have been posted for much of the North Carolina coast. Fortunately, the storm’s hurricane-force winds are not expected to hit land. 

As of 2 p.m. ET, the center of Maria was located about 300 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. It was moving to the north at 7 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Maria is forecast to pass about 150 miles of the Outer Banks on Wednesday, AccuWeather said.

Up to 4 feet of storm surge flooding could swamp areas from Cape Lookout to Duck, including the sound side of the Outer Banks, the hurricane center warned. Several inches of drenching rain could also lead to flooding. 

Though the storm is well offshore, large swells are rolling onshore along much of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic coasts because of Maria. “These swells will likely cause dangerous surf and rip currents at beaches through much of the week,” the hurricane center said. 

Some beach erosion will also occur along much of the U.S. Atlantic coast, AccuWeather said.

 

Maria is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday then take a hard right turn out into the Atlantic on Thursday. It should race out to sea over the weekend.

Another storm, Hurricane Lee, is located over the central Atlantic Ocean about 900 miles east of Bermuda but should stay far from shore.

In the eastern Pacific Ocean, Tropical Storm Pilar continues to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the west coast of Mexico near Mazatlan. The remnants of Pilar could bring rain and…