BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sunday September 17, 2017 – Maria is now a hurricane with 75 mile-per-hour winds and is forecast to be near major hurricane intensity when it moves across the Leeward Islands tomorrow night and could pose a major threat to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later this week, including some of the same areas that were hard-hit by Hurricane Irma.
Additional hurricane and storm warnings have been issued as a result.
The Caribbean islands under hurricane warning are Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Saba and St Eustatius, while the latter two are also on hurricane watch along with the US and British Virgin Islands St Maarten, St Martin, St Barthelemy and Anguilla. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in a Miami has warned interests elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico to monitor the progress of the system, and additional tropical storm or hurricane watches and warnings will likely be issued tonight or tomorrow.
At 5 p.m., Hurricane Maria was located about 140 miles east northeast of Barbados and about 275 miles east southeast of Dominica. It was moving west northwest at 15 miles per hour.
“On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands Monday night and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday,” the NHC said. “Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria could be near major hurricane intensity when it moves across the Leeward Islands Monday night.”
Maria is likely to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week as a dangerous major hurricane.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 17, 2017
Swells generated by Maria are already beginning to affect the Lesser Antilles. And forecasters say a dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands.
Maria is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands through Wednesday night; and 2 to 4 inches for the northern and central Windward Islands.