The tiny two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean faced its third hurricane watch in two weeks as forecasters announced on Saturday the formation of Tropical Storm Maria, which was expected to strengthen to a hurricane.
The National Hurricane Center projected the storm would approach the Leeward Islands as a hurricane by Monday, and could reach Puerto Rico and the British and United States Virgin Islands by midweek. Its sustained winds reached 50 miles per hour on its westward path toward the Caribbean.
Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, killed dozens of people in the Caribbean this month. It devastated Barbuda, amplifying the immediate threat of Hurricane Jose by leaving half of its 1,600 residents homeless, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for Barbuda in anticipation of Jose, but the storm has lingered in the Caribbean for more than a week without making landfall.
On Saturday evening, a hurricane watch was posted for Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis and St. Kitts. A tropical storm watch was issued for Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, told reporters he expected to initiate emergency protocols.
In addition to Maria, there were two other named storms in the Atlantic on Saturday.
Jose was moving slowly north, well off the East Coast of the United States with winds of 80 m.p.h. It was expected to weaken into a tropical storm, although it may cause rip currents along the coast.
Tropical Storm Lee, which like Maria was upgraded from a tropical depression on Saturday, had 40-m.p.h. winds and was headed west in the middle of the Atlantic.