Hurricane Maria is intensifying and is now a very dangerous Category 4 storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a post on Monday, Sept. 18.

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The NHC warned that Maria, which was named a hurricane over the weekend, is “extremely dangerous” and has winds of 130 mph.

The eye and “intense inner core” is slated to pass over Dominica “during the next few hours.” Dominica is located between St. Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda. Right now, Maria is about 45 miles east-southeast of Dominica, and it’s also 35 miles northeast of Martinique.


It’s headed west-northwest on a track that would put it over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico by Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) advisory. The hurricane was expected to continue to strengthen during the coming two days, the center said, according to media reports.

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp warned residents not to underestimate the threat from Maria, or its potential to change track. “Just remember this is a live animal,” he said.

The island of St. Croix looked to face hurricane-force winds, with nearby St. Thomas and St. John seeing tropical storm force winds, Mapp said, adding, “given the current conditions of St. Thomas and St. John, that’s not good,” according to reports.

The Weather Channel reported that Maria could impact the Hurricane Irma-hit northern Leeward Islands.

It will likely hit the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a major Hurricane on Wednesday, the Channel reported.

It will also impact Hispañola, which contains Haiti and the Dominican Republican, and might then hit the Turks and Caicos.

But it’s unclear if Maria will impact the U.S. East Coast, which would occur next week.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the following:
– Guadeloupe
– Dominica
– St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
– Martinique
– U.S. Virgin Islands
– British Virgin Islands
– Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the following:
– Antigua and Barbuda
– Saba and St. Eustatius
– St. Maarten
– Anguilla
– St. Lucia

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the following:
– St. Maarten
– Saba and St. Eustatius
– Anguilla
– Isla Saona to Puerto Plata
– St. Martin and St. Barthelemy

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the following:
– St. Vincent and the Grenadines
– West of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic-Haiti