Hurricane Maria forecast to become Category 4 storm

Hurricane Maria nearing already battered Caribbean islands

Tropical Storm Maria was expected to reach hurricane status later on Sunday, and hurricane watches were in effect for several Caribbean islands, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane Maria is now a Category 1 hurricane and it appears to slowly be moving across the Atlantic in the direction of the US coast.

"Maria will affect portions of the Leeward Islands and the British and US Virgin Islands as an extremely unsafe major hurricane during the next couple of days, and hurricane warnings are in effect for many of these islands", the center said.

"Maria is likely to strengthen significantly, and is expected to be at major hurricane intensity when it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing risky wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards", the NHC said. A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia. A hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds.

This season is already significantly ahead of the average measures for major hurricane days and accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of storm strength, duration, and frequency). "Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides", it said. One military team has been deployed to the British Virgin Islands.

"We want to alert the people of Puerto Rico that this is not an event like we've ever seen before", Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters. Te eye of the storm came ashore 9:15 p.m. ET Monday at Dominica, heading west-northwest at around 9 miles per hour.

An additional 42-strong military resilience team has also been deployed to the British Virgin Islands ready to offer support and assistance after Maria has hit.

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Some of these islands are still recovering after being hit by Irma - the category five hurricane which left at least 37 people dead and caused billions of dollars' worth of damage.

Jose, which is losing some of its tropical characteristics, is expected to behave like a strong nor'easter along the coast of the Northeast, from near Long Island to eastern MA.

The hurricane's likely path could put it on a collision course with the hurricane-weary Virgin Islands, the center said.

Farther north, long-lived Hurricane Jose continued to head northward off the U.S. East Coast, causing unsafe surf and rip currents.

The tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of southern New England, from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Hull, Massachusetts, the NHC said.

"Minor to moderate coastal flooding is possible from DE to southern New England", the center said. Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the BVI.

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