UK's Caribbean territories braced for 'potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Maria

Karmen Lewis of Detroit Lakes rode out Hurricane Irma in this house on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Aside from the islands already damaged by the Category 5 Irma, Maria also battered Caribbean islands that were spared by Irma.

The storm had strengthened to Category 5, with maximum sustained winds near 160 m.p.h., hours before the eye passed over Dominica.

Further west, residents of the British and US Virgin Islands were battening down the hatches ahead of Maria's arrival.

The Hurricane Centre said some fluctuations in intensity were likely over the next day or so, but Maria was forecast to remain an extremely unsafe hurricane.

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".

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say, "Be careful, our hearts are with you".

Maria hit Yabucoa, on Puerto Rico's eastern coast, with Category 4 strength just after 6 a.m. Wednesday.

It could dump as much as 25 inches (63.5 cm) of rain on parts of the island and could push ocean water dangerously over normal levels, of up to 9 feet (2.74 m) and cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

"Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to remain a risky major hurricane through Friday", the service said.

"It's going to come down again", he said. Hundreds of islanders left their homes and fled to shelters.

National Hurricane Center forecaster Eric Blake tweeted Maria could be the most destructive storm in Puerto Rico's history.

An entire roof was blown off this home in the village of Goyave in Guadeloupe on Tuesday. The storm, now with winds as high as 140 miles per hour, is moving north at 10 miles per hour.

The National Hurricane Center forecast cone that we show on WECT products is the official and best resource for storm intensity and track information. "My dad. My sister", she said, as she held her phone, unable to reach them.


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