Hurricane Maria Now a ‘Major’ Storm With Winds of 125 MPH

September 18, 2017 Updated: September 18, 2017    

Hurricane Maria is now a major Category 3 storm and is “continuing to strengthen,” according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in a 2 p.m. update posted on Monday, Sept. 18.

Maria’s eye is slated to “move through the Leeward Islands late this afternoon or this evening,” the NHC warned.

It’s packing winds of more than 125 mph.

“Maria will likely strike the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as an intense hurricane Wednesday,” the Weather Channel reported, adding that it’s unclear if Maria will affect the U.S. East Coast this week.

(NHC / NOAA)
(NHC / NOAA)

Maria was located about 60 miles (95 km) east of Martinique, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT). It was headed west-northwest at about 10 mph (17 kph) on a track that would put it over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico by Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Streets were flooded in some residential parts of the island of Barbados, which had been experiencing heavy rain since Sunday as the storm approached.

(NOAA / NHC)
(NOAA / NHC)

Maria was expected to bring storm surges – seawater driven ashore by wind – of up to 6 feet to 9 feet (1.8-2.7 m), the NHC said. Parts of the central and southern Leeward Islands could see as much as 20 inches (51 cm) of rain, it said.

“It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend, or move to a state shelter because rescuers will not go out and risk their lives once winds reach 50 miles per hour,” Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told reporters on Monday.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the following:

– Guadeloupe
– Dominica
– St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
– Martinique
– St. Lucia
– U.S. Virgin Islands
– British Virgin Islands

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the following:
– Antigua and Barbuda
– Saba and St. Eustatius
– St. Maarten
– Anguilla

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the following:
– Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
– Saba and St. Eustatius
– St. Maarten
– St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
– Anguilla

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the following:
– St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Here is more from the NHC:

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.

A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Reuters contributed to this report.