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Maria becomes major hurricane, powers through Caribbean

19 September 2017

The storm is likely to intensify into a Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released its 5 p.m. public advisory Sunday announcing that the storm is moving west-northwest at 15 miles per hour with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour - and this motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday.

Maria becomes a hurricane and is forecast to continue strengthening as it approaches the Leeward Islands, northeast Caribbean, according to officials.

Hurricane watches were in effect for numerous very islands still trying to cope with the devastation left by Hurricane Irma, including St. Martin, St. Barts and Antigua and Barbuda.

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It is still too early to know whether Maria will affect SC or the USA mainland. The GFS and European model are now agreeing that Maria reaches the Bahamas by the weekend, then makes a north turn staying east of Florida.

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

Hurricane warnings were posted for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.

Maria is expected to graze the Dominican Republic before it moves more north toward Turks and Caicos and eventually into Atlantic Ocean. "Some gradual weakening is expected during the next couple of days, however, Jose is forecast to remain a hurricane through Tuesday", the NHC said. They expect it to weaken again to a tropical storm in three to four days.

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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.

As of Sunday night, the storm was about 980 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands.

The hurricane is projected to sweep up the coast and will possibly affect areas of North Carolina all the way up to New England. Larger swells and rip currents are likely all along the east coast. But 2017 may end up easily beating that forecast with more than two months to go during the busiest part of the Atlantic season.

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Unfortunately, some places that were severely impacted by Hurricane Irma - including Puerto Rico - could also feel the wrath of Hurricane Maria as it is expected to be a category 3 hurricane by Tuesday.

Maria becomes major hurricane, powers through Caribbean