Hurricane Maria Intensifies, Aims for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Will Maria follow in Irma's footsteps?

Brig John Ridge, second-in-command of the United Kingdom military's Joint Task Force, which has been distributing aid in the region following the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma, said the British Virgin Islands has "already been weakened" and that the situation "doesn't look good".

Meteorologist Ryan Maue‏ tweeted: "While Caribbean islands including Puerto Rico are under threat from Hurricane Maria. signs it will recurve away from US East Coast".

The NHC said the British Virgin Islands were at risk of being hit by a unsafe storm surge with destructive waves raising the water level up to 9ft (2.7m).

In preparation, President Donald Trump already approved emergency declarations for both Puerto Rico and the U.S.

Hurricane Maria has strengthened into an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 storm.

"We have an extremely weak infrastructure that has already been hit by one storm", he said.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria had maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour late Monday. The hurricane is expected to hit Caribbean Sea islands first, where residents have been warned about inevitable risky consequences of the looming disaster.

The hurricane briefly weakened to a category four storm before regaining category five status, the highest grading on the Simpson-Saffir scale, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Dominica is bracing for what could be a direct hit from the storm.

It escaped the worst of Irma and has been an important hub for getting relief to Islands more badly affected.

Maria has maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour and is slowly moving to the west-northwest at 9 miles per hour.

The storm's path after it hits Puerto Rico is hard to predict. On St. Thomas and St. John in the Virgin Islands, residents have been urged to leave their homes for government shelters, since Irma damaged many homes. "You will not survive". The storm was predicted to bring 15 to 30 centimetres of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

This hurricane season in the Atlantic has seen several major storms.

The storm will affect parts of the Leeward Islands and the British and US Virgin Islands for next couple of days. Maria's winds were measured to be as fast as 260 km/h.

Dominica was the first island to feel Maria's force.

On Friday, Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project issued a two-week forecast of above-normal cyclone activity for the Atlantic basin.

According to this model, the eye of the hurricane would remain offshore but Maria could still impact the coast on September 26 and 27.

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

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