Hurricane Maria is currently a category 3 hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects it to continue to strengthen as it moves across the Caribbean.
Late Sunday afternoon, the NHC upgraded Maria from a tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane.
By 11 a.m. Monday morning, the NHC announced that Maria had “rapidly intensifie[d] into a major hurricane,” reaching category 3 wind speeds of up to 120 mph.
“Additional rapid-strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the northeastern Caribbean sea,” the NHC advisory continued.
Hurricane warnings are in place across the Leeward Islands, where the storm has already begun to make landfall. The NHC predicts that Maria will hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by Tuesday evening.
The Caribbean islands are still recovering from the devastation wrought by category 5 superstorm Hurricane Irma, which passed through the region two weeks prior before making landfall in Florida.
Current forecasts predict that the islands will bear the brunt of Maria’s winds; the storm is currently expected to dissipate before reaching the U.S. coast.
The NHC has issued warnings about storm surges of up to 9 feet in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and said that some isolated areas affected by the storm may receive up to 25 inches of rainfall.
Download video Links