Hurricane Maria has undergone a rapid intensification and has become a powerful category 5 hurricane. As of the 9:00 PM EST update, Maria has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph with higher gusts. Maria also has a minimum pressure of 924 mb, which means Maria is very intense. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, the U.S. Virginia Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and St. Kitts. A tropical storm warning is in effect for, already battered, Antigua and Barbuda. Additional watches and warnings may be issued in the coming days so the rest of the Caribbean Islands should monitor this storm closely. Storm surge, heavy rainfall and high swells will be life-threatening along the path of Maria. Maria is expected to make a turn to the north after impacting the Dominican Republic. Through the next 5 days, Hurricane Maria is expected to remain a major hurricane. The question still remains how close to U.S shore will Maria be. The entire East Coast needs to be monitoring Hurricane Maria this week. Hurricane Maria is supposed to impact the Leeward Islands tonight into tomorrow and hit Puerto Rico early Wednesday morning. By Thursday evening, Maria is expected to impact the Dominican Republic before making a northward turn.
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ⓒ 2017 Meteorologist Brandie Cantrell