Hurricane Maria intensifies into Category 3 as it heads for the Caribbean

Cheryl Sanders
September 19, 2017

The Leeward Islands will likely take the first hit as Maria moves west-northwest with maximum sustained wind speeds near 65 miles per hour, the NHC warned. Jose is expected to stay a hurricane through Tuesday after it regained Category 1 strength on Friday.

Up to 15in (38cm) of rain is predicted to fall as Maria barrels across the Caribbean, with "isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)" expected to deluge the British Virgin Islands.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made a series of dire Facebook posts as the storm hit the island, calling the winds "merciless" and saying his residence sustained damages.

"I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating. indeed, mind boggling", he said.

By Monday and Tuesday night, the islands of of Dominica and Guadeloupe are expected to be hit by Maria.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center in the capital San Juan to the north - which is still housing Hurricane Irma evacuees from other Caribbean islands - is preparing to accept thousands of residents as the worst of the storm is felt. And US President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to aid with federal assistance.

Tropical Storms MARIA and LEE formed in the Atlantic. Now those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are bracing for another powerful hurricane.

Maria's eyewall is just 15km in diameter, and the hurricane force winds expend across a 60km diameter, centred on this eyewall.

Brigadier John Ridge, second in command of the Joint Task Force of troops helping the islanders to recover, said: "It kind of does not matter which way the hurricane goes, it is bad".

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma left a path of destruction in the Caribbean, another tropical storm threatens to impede on recovery efforts as it heads toward Leeward Islands and is forecasted to turn into a hurricane later on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose is maintaining its intensity as it churns north, threatening "dangerous surf and rip currents" along the US East Coast in the next few days, the hurricane center said.

Cecil Shillingford, the Dominican government's advisor on disaster management, said at a press conference last night that when Maria passes Dominica it will be a category two hurricane of 100 miles per hour.

St Lucia's meteorological service has changed the hurricane warning issued earlier to a tropical storm warning.

The maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 165 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Jose was centred about 425km east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 15km/h. The NHC downgraded Maria to a Category 4 storm early Tuesday with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.

Capt. Nelson Upright of the Narragansett Fire Department told WPRI-TV the injuries in Rhode Island ranged Sunday from minor to "pretty major".

Both the British and US Virgin Islands are forecast to receive as much as 20 inches of rainfall as Maria continues trace the path of Hurricane Irma.

Jose is whipping up risky surf and rip currents as it heads north over the Atlantic off the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard.

He had earlier warned that "we should treat the approaching hurricane very, very seriously".

After directly striking Dominica, Maria is expected to continue on its Caribbean trajectory over numerous Leeward Islands as well as Puerto Rico.

Other reports by iNewsToday