Maria strengthens into tropical storm, expected to continue growing

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Maria has strengthened into a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Maria has formed in the Atlantic and is forecast to strengthen and brush by some islands that were recently wrecked by Hurricane Irma.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It was located about 620 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and was heading west at 20 mph. A slower west-northwest motion is expected over the next couple of days.

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

Maria is expected to be a hurricane as it approaches the Leeward Islands on Monday.

Maria could also affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week as a dangerous major hurricane, and hurricane watches could be issued for these islands as early as Sunday.

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