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The Latest: Swath of US East Coast urged to keep eye on Jose

This Sept. 14, 2017 photo provided by Guillermo Houwer on Saturday, Sept. 16, shows storm damage to the Biras Creek Resort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. (Guillermo Houwer via AP)

The Latest: Swath of US East Coast urged to keep eye on Jose

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on tropical weather (all times local):

8 a.m. EDT

Forecasters say Hurricane Jose is now about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and that a large stretch of the U.S. East Coast into New England should keep watch on the storm’s progress.

Jose is whipping up dangerous surf and rip currents as it heads north over the Atlantic off the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) as of 8 a.m. EDT Monday. Forecasters say Jose is expected to pass well offshore of North Carolina’s coast through Monday, then head further north east of the New Jersey coast by Wednesday.

In the eastern Caribbean, Hurricane Maria is intensifying. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm now has top winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and is about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Martinique and set to become a major hurricane in coming hours. A hurricane warning has now been issued for St. Lucia.

The Miami-based hurricane center says Maria is expected to move across the Leeward Islands late Monday.           ___

5 a.m. EDT

Authorities have issued a hurricane watch for Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria churns toward the Eastern Caribbean amid forecasts it could become a major hurricane by Monday night or early Tuesday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria was centered about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Martinique at 5 a.m. EDT Monday with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph). It is moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Elsewhere, Hurricane Jose continues to head north over the Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast, causing dangerous surf and rip currents. Tropical storm watches have been posted along the coast from Delaware to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. Jose, with top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph), was located about 385 miles (620 kilometers) west of Bermuda. It was moving north at 9 mph.

In the Eastern Pacific, forecasters say, Tropical Storm Norma was expected to slowly weaken southwest of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Norma was about 160 miles (255 kilometers) southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, early Monday with top sustained winds of 50 mph (kph). Forecasters say no coastal warnings or watches are in effect for Norma.

___

2 a.m.

A strengthening Hurricane Maria swirled toward the eastern Caribbean early Monday, with forecasters warning it probably would be a major storm by the time it passed through the already battered Leeward Islands later in the day.

Maria grew into a hurricane Sunday, and forecasters said it was expected to become much stronger over the next 48 hours following a path that would take it near many of the islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma and on toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Hurricane warnings were posted for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique. A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia. Other islands were warned to stay alert for changes in the storm. Hurricane watches were up in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the island shared by French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten, St. Barts and Anguilla.

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