SAN JUAN – Hurricane Maria, an “extremely dangerous” category four storm, heads towards the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. It is due to hit the islands on Monday night local time.
In both the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast of the Northeast United States, conditions are set to deteriorate rapidly through this week as these storms arrive, according to Washington Post.
The strengthening storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph has the potential to cause widespread destruction along its path from the central Lesser Antilles through Puerto Rico.
“Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane warning is in effect for that island,” the National Hurricane Center said Monday.
Maria is moving roughly along the same path as Irma, the hurricane that devastated the region this month.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, St Martin, St Barts, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, St Lucia and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
Some of these islands are still recovering after being hit by Hurricane Irma – a category five hurricane which left at least 37 people dead and caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage.
Irma also hit the U.S., with 11 deaths being linked to the hurricane. Nearly 6.9 million homes were left without power in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.
The Leeward Islands – where Maria will first strike – includes Antigua and Barbuda.
The Puerto Rican government has issued a statement saying it expects the hurricane to make landfall there as a category three on Tuesday.
A second hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 90mph.
It is capable of producing coastal flooding and pockets of damaging wind from eastern Long Island to coastal Massachusetts, its effects are most likely to resemble those of a strong Nor’easter – rather than a devastating hurricane.
The centre of the storm was about 335 miles south-east of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, the NHC said in its advisory at 21:00 GMT on Sunday.