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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A depression in the Atlantic Ocean has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Maria.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, it was 620 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles.

Maria is moving toward the west near 20 mph (31 km/h). A slower west-northwest motion is expected during the next couple of days. On the forecast track, Maria is expected to approach the Leeward Islands on Monday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours, and Maria is forecast to be a hurricane when it approaches the Leeward Islands early next week.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center.


A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* St. Lucia
* Martinique and Guadeloupe
* Dominica
* Barbados
* St. Vincent and the Grenadines


WIND: Hurricane conditions are possible within portions of Leeward Islands by Monday night or Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions possible on Monday.

RAINFALL: The depression is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 5 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the central and southern Leeward Islands through Tuesday night. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

SURF: Swells generated by the depression are expected to begin affecting the Lesser Antilles by Sunday night. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.


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