Maria strengthens to major Category 3 hurricane

Maria strengthens to major Category 3 hurricane

"By 2 p.m. you're going to start experiencing tropical-storm winds on St. Croix, and then we're going to have a very long night".

With winds of 160 miles per hour, Hurricane Maria has made landfall on the island of Dominica, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane Maria was about 35 miles (55 km) northeast of Martinique, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (215 km per hour), the Miami-based weather forecaster said.

St. Thomas and St. John are still recovering from a direct hit by Hurricane Irma, which did extensive damage and caused four deaths on the two islands.

As of 8 a.m. Monday morning, Hurricane Maria, now spinning in the Atlantic, has become a category 3 storm and is forecast to hit the Leeward Islands later today, and later this week Puerto Rico.

A strengthening Hurricane Maria churned toward the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean on Monday as forecasters warned it was expected to become a major hurricane by early Tuesday.

Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 5 storm on Dominica in the Caribbean late Monday.

Maria strengthens to major Category 3 hurricane
Maria strengthens to major Category 3 hurricane

A hurricane warning has been issued for the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, St. Lucia, Martinique, and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.

The center earlier warned that "preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion" as the eye of the storm approached Dominica, eventually hitting at 0115 GMT.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló said, "We want to alert the people of Puerto Rico that this is not an event like we've ever seen before". He said schools were canceled for Monday and government employees would work only a half day.

Dominica authorities had closed schools and government offices and urged people to move from unsafe areas to shelters.

While forecasters don't anticipate Jose making landfall in the U.S., it's still expected to cause "dangerous surf and rip currents" along the East Coast in the next few days, the hurricane center said. In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika unleashed flooding and landslides that killed 31 people and destroyed more than 370 homes. It wasn't expected to make landfall but tropical storm watches were posted along the coast from DE to Massachusetts' Cape Cod.

Jose was centered about 290 miles (465 kilometers) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph).

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Lee weakened into a tropical depression far out in the Atlantic while Hurricane Otis weakened some far out in the Pacific.



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