Maria brushes North Carolina with gusty winds, coastal flooding before heading out to sea Wednesday night

Maria is making its closest approach to North Carolina with gusty winds, beach erosion and coastal flooding on Wednesday, while dangerous seas elsewhere along the East Coast at midweek.

The eye of Maria will be between 140 and 150 miles east of the Outer Banks on Wednesday. Thus, the core of the storm with the strongest winds will stay offshore.

Maria was downgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday evening, then regained Category 1 hurricane status on Wednesday midday.

"We expect Maria to bring tropical storm conditions, or the equivalent of a moderate nor'easter, in part of eastern North Carolina and in southeastern Virginia," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Maria moved into an area of weak steering winds off the Carolina coast.

Maria's forward progress has diminished, but will soon increase as a push of much cooler air sweeps in from the west.

The slow forward motion will produce moderate coastal flooding and significant beach erosion along the Outer Banks and southeastern Virginia coast into Wednesday night.

The worst conditions will be near and north of the center of the storm, from eastern North Carolina to Delaware.

"A coastal inundation of 2-4 feet is likely on the barrier islands of eastern North Carolina," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

RELATED: Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico

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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria's destruction in Puerto Rico
COROZAL, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 27: Irma Maldanado stands with Sussury her parrot and her dog in what is left of her home that was destroyed when Hurricane Maria passed through on September 27, 2017 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, passed through. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A car is viewed stuck in a flooded street in Santurce, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 21, 2017. Puerto Rico braced for potentially calamitous flash flooding on Thursday after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria which devastated the island and knocked out the entire electricity grid. The hurricane, which Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called 'the most devastating storm in a century,' had battered the island of 3.4 million people after roaring ashore early Wednesday with deadly winds and heavy rain. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Fishing boats with severe damage at Club Nautico in the San Juan Bay. Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Hurricane Maria passed through Puerto Rico leaving behind a path of destruction across the national territory. San Juan September 20, 2017. (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Men walk past damaged homes after the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph). / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: A local shop sustained damages after Hurricane Maria at Ponce de Leon Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A man looks for valuables in the damaged house of a relative after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO SEPTEMBER 20: Trees block the streets after Hurricane Maria at Escambron Beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Pablo Pantoja/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Damaged electrical installations are seen after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria en Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
A man walks close to damaged houses after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Agapito Lopez looks at the damage in his house after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
TOPSHOT - A man rides his bicycle through a damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 24, 2017 following the passage of Hurricane Maria. Authorities in Puerto Rico rushed on September 23, 2017 to evacuate people living downriver from a dam said to be in danger of collapsing because of flooding from Hurricane Maria. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment after the window was blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: People sit in their apartment with the window blown out by the winds of Hurricane Maria as it passed through the area last week on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 25: A flooded street is seen as people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 25, 2017 in San Juan Puerto Rico. Maria left widespread damage across Puerto Rico, with virtually the whole island without power or cell service. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
An aerial photo shows damage caused by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/DroneBase
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The worst conditions will be around the times of high tide.

The impending effects from Maria forced mandatory evacuations of visitors in Ocracoke Island and Hatteras Island as well as the closure of the Ocracoke Campground.

"Waters are likely to rise to about 2 feet above astronomical tide levels in southeastern Virginia, with minor coastal flooding likely," Kottlowski said.

While a few bouts of showers will graze the Outer Banks of North Carolina through Wednesday, the heaviest rain will remain well offshore. Any showers are not expected to exacerbate coastal flooding.

More from AccuWeather: 
Latest details on Maria 
How to avoid the potentially deadly grip of a rip current 
Tropical lull following Maria, Lee may not last through early October 
US government ramps up emergency response as Puerto Rico faces humanitarian, economic crises 
In wake of catastrophic storms, is the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season more active than normal?

Tropical storm-force wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph can lead to minor property damage and power outages for parts of the Outer Banks, especially Cape Hatteras, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait.

Loose outdoor items should be brought inside to prevent them from being tossed around in the wind and becoming dangerous projectiles. Weak tree limbs could be snapped.

As the sweep of cool air arrives, Maria will accelerate northeastward and out into the open Atlantic Wednesday night and Thursday. Summer-like heat spanning the eastern third of the nation will come to an end.

Even after Maria’s closest approach to the East Coast, seas, surf and rip currents will be a problem from the northern Bahamas and Florida, to the southeastern New England beaches this week.

Lifeguards reported 25 water rescues because of rip currents at Wrightsville beach, North Carolina, on Saturday. Near Jacksonville, water rose up to the dune line at South Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

While air and water temperatures are sufficiently high for swimming along the Atlantic Seaboard, those heading to the beach should avoid going into the water. Getting caught in a rip current is a life-threatening situation, especially during a time of year when lifeguards are not regularly on duty.

"People should avoid standing on jetties, due to the risk of sneaker waves," Sosnowski said. "Small craft should remain within the protection of intercoastal waterways this week and should remain in port through Wednesday night from North Carolina to southeastern Virginia."

As the storm tracks into the North Atlantic at the end of September, some of Maria’s rain and wind could brush part of Atlantic Canada. At the very least, seas near the coast and offshore will become dangerous.

A lull in tropical activity will follow Maria, but there will likely be more tropical threats heading into October. The Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and U.S. near-shore areas of the Atlantic will be places to watch closely.

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