Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico as it made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. Credit: NOAA/NASA/CIRA | TNS

As Jose continues to generate large ocean swells along the Maine coast, forecasters say it could push Hurricane Maria closer to land early next week.

Most forecast models suggest Maria will follow a similar path as Jose, which has stalled offshore as high pressure systems, one over the eastern Great Lakes and another further offshore, keep it from venturing toward land or away from the coast.

Depending in part on how high pressure systems might shift over the weekend, the remnants of Jose could help draw Maria further out to sea or push the hurricane toward land. Most forecasts models indicate the hurricane is likely to stay out at sea instead of making landfall.

If Maria moves closer toward land than Jose, East Coast residents can expect to get more rain, winds, heavy seas and potential coastal flooding.

Jose, now downgraded to a tropical storm, on Thursday morning was centered about 300 miles due south from the Maine coast, or roughly 145 miles southeast of Nantucket. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and has tropical storm-force winds (39 mph and above) that extend outward 200 miles from its center.

Jose is expected to hover in the same approximate location out at sea and to continue to gradually lose intensity over the next several days, becoming a tropical depression with maximum wind speeds of 38 mph or less.

High surf and small craft advisories remained in effect Thursday for the entire Maine and New Hampshire coasts, but are expected to end Friday morning. A tropical storm warning continued for southeastern Massachusetts and Block Island, with other related coastal advisories extended south to Virginia.

Acadia National Park had warned visitors earlier in the week to keep an eye out for large waves and rip currents along the shore, but did not issue any Jose-related alerts on Thursday. A few cruise ships have canceled planned stops in Bar Harbor because of the heavy surf, which has attracted surfers to some beaches in Maine despite warnings about rip currents.

Further South, Hurricane Maria continues to move northwest, having hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday, where it knocked out power to the entire territory. Now downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, Maria is expected to turn more directly to the north over the weekend, skirting east of the Bahamas, and to start veering northeast early next week.

If Maria does move close the East Coast, its impact could be felt most acutely anywhere from North Carolina and Maine. If it stays out at sea, coastal areas still could get some wind and rain, along with heavy surf, as they have with Jose, forecasters said.

Swells “likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” could reach the southeastern coast of the mainland U.S. on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....