North Carolina’s Outer Banks Brace For Maria

UPDATE: Maria Has Been Downgraded To A Tropical Storm

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP)- Hurricane Maria has weakened slightly as it moves northward in the Atlantic off the coast of the Carolinas.

Maria’s maximum sustained winds Tuesday after were near 75 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria is expected to keep gradually weakening and is forecast to become a tropical storm Tuesday night or Wednesday.

The storm is centered about 175 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving north at about 7 mph.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for a swath of the North Carolina coast from Bogue Inlet to the Virginia border.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are bracing for the effects of Hurricane Maria, even though the storm is expected to pass the state at least 150 miles offshore.

The weakening “is thanks to some drier air, some cooler ocean waters,” WJZ’s Meg McNamara says. The storm “is barely holding on to its hurricane status as it tracks slowly to the north.”

Still, the Carolina coasts could experience tropical storm force winds. Officials ordered visitors to leave both Ocracoke and Hatteras islands ahead of the storm. Thousands of visitors abandoned their beach vacations and evacuated as a result.

On Thursday, the storm “is really going to move away from the United States,” according to Meg. Its impact on Maryland should be minimal.

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(TM and Copyright 2017 CBS and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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