Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Maria strengthens to Category 3 hurricane, threatens Caribbean

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 10:40 AM
This September 17 GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 7:45 p.m. EDT, shows Hurricane Maria as it approaches the Lesser Antilles. – AP Photo

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says that Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 3 storm as it headed towards the Caribbean.

Maria on Monday was "rapidly" intensifying into a major hurricane.

The eye is expected to move through the Leeward Islands later Monday.

The storm's centre was about 60 miles (95 kilometres) east of Martinique, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph).

The storm is on a path that would take it near many of the islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma and on towards Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  

Hurricane warnings were posted for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.
Meanwhile, the ocean is washing over parts of North Carolina's Outer Banks as Hurricane Jose passes well to the east.

The state Transportation Department said in a Facebook post Monday that the affected areas encompass Pea Island, Rodanthe, Avon and Hatteras village on Hatteras Island.

Jose was about 270 miles (440 kilometres) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras on Monday morning and moving north at 9 mph (15 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph).

DOT is urging drivers to drive slowly through the water. All roads are passable.

The National Weather Service warns of dangerous rip currents along the coast.