Dominica 'devastated' by Hurricane Maria

Dominica 'devastated' by Hurricane Maria

Dominica 'devastated' by Hurricane Maria

Army personnel evacuate the Virgin Islands ahead of Hurricane Maria.

Maria is moving roughly along the same track as Irma, the hurricane that devastated the region this month. It is worthy of note that meteorologists considered Maria a fourth category hurricane just a few hours ago.

After crossing St. Croix, Maria will head toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday as "an extremely risky Category 4 or 5 hurricane", the National Hurricane Center said. These islands can expect 6 to 9 feet of storm surge, which is often the biggest threat to life and property from a hurricane.

That's a sign of an extremely strong hurricane likely to get even mightier, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

Hurricane Maria is predicted to deluge the Caribbean with up to 15ins (38cm) of rain, with "isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)" expected in the British Virgin Islands.

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"The storm compounds already existing problems on the island", said Deepak Lamba-Nieves, research director at the Center for a New Economy in San Juan.

He said up to 500 more people could be sent if needed.

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica on Monday night as a category 5 storm.

The NHC said that the hurricane would reach Puerto Rico by Wednesday. Almost 70,000 people remain without power, and Gov. Ricardo Rossello on Monday warned of another widespread outage.

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It's still too soon to say whether Florida or other parts of the continental USA will be in the storm's path after it crosses the Caribbean. "This is going to be a catastrophic event".

As with any hurricane, don't focus exclusively on wind speed - the storm surge and rain matter too.

It hit the island of Dominica with 160 miles per hour maximum sustained winds.

Residents in various parts of the island have been reporting heavy rain, high winds and lightning, as well as galvanize blowing around, trees breaking and damage to roofs.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued along the Virginia coast for later Monday through Tuesday.

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This hurricane season in the Atlantic has seen several major storms. And more storms can certainly form. Follow the NWS's Atlantic Ops account too.

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