Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands residents urged to prepare as 160 mph Hurricane Maria nears

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The National Hurricane Center is warning residents of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that they should rush to complete preparations for life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, flooding and destructive winds, as Category 5 Hurricane Maria barreled closer.

“Maria has maximum sustained winds at 160 mph, and it’s still on a path toward Puerto Rico. On this current track, Puerto Rico will feel substantially worse conditions than it did with Irma,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Leigh Spann with our sister station WFLA.

The National Hurricane Center is describing Maria as “potentially catastrophic” as the hurricane moves across the northeastern Caribbean headed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Maria was about 140 miles west of Guadeloupe and about 110 miles southeast of St. Croix.

Hurricane Maria pounded the small island of Dominica with catastrophic winds overnight, charging into the eastern Caribbean on a course that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Fierce winds and rain lashed mountainous Dominica for hours as Maria tore roofs from homes as an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm.

Here’s a summary of watches and warnings in effect for Hurricane Maria

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Dominica
  • St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
  • Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Saba and St. Eustatius
  • St. Maarten
  • Anguilla
  • West of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican
    Republic and Haiti
  • West of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
  • Guadeloupe

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • Saba and St. Eustatius
  • St. Maarten
  • St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
  • Anguilla
  • Isla Saona to Puerto Plata

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • West of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic-Haiti border