Maria Upgraded to Cat 1 Hurricane, Further Strengthening Likely

Maria Upgraded to Cat 1 Hurricane, Further Strengthening Likely

Maria has rapidly intensified to a 130 miles per hour, Category 4 hurricane as of the 2pm Monday, Sept. 18, advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

"A unsafe 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".

Forecasters say the storm is expected to cause risky surf and rip currents.

The eye of Jose, with top sustained winds of 150 km/h, should remain off the USA east coast, the NHC said. "We're not out of the woods just yet, and we still do just have to watch this, because these computer models can change, just like they did with Irma".

Hurricane warnings are in effect for St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe and Dominica.

Caribbean nations are bracing for the second powerful storm in as many weeks as Hurricane Maria approaches. The center says unsafe surf and rip currents are expected along the East Coast of the United States. It was located about 420 miles (680 kilometers) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was heading north at 8 mph (13 kph).

Hurricane warnings are in place across the Leeward Islands, where the storm has already begun to make landfall. We will continue to watch and have updates in the days ahead.

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Tropical storm watches have been issued for a portion of the mid-Atlantic and New England coast.

A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Nassau and Suffolk counties until further notice, the National Weather Service said, with the worst of the weather moving into the area Tuesday evening, probably after 4 p.m.

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Maria continues to strengthen Leeward Islands.

Rosalina Vázquez, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in San Juan, said the eye of the storm is expected to travel right over or north of the island.

NHC forecasters say Maria will likely intensify to a major Category 3 storm with sustained winds topping 125 miles per hour on Thursday, bringing unsafe wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards.

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