Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017. 7:41 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: The National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Maria this evening to a catastrophic category 5 hurricane. Maria is currently lashing the Leeward Islands.
The NHC reported that the eye of Hurricane Maria and the intense inner core is nearing Dominica.
Hurricane Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 miles per hour, and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday. It is expected to hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
On the forecast track, the core of Hurricane Maria will move near Dominica and the adjacent Leeward Islands during the next few hours, over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea the remainder of tonight and Tuesday, and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Hurricane Maria carries maximum sustained winds of approximately 160 miles per hour with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is possible tonight, but some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.
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