Hurricane Maria was upgraded to a Category 5 strength storm.
Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said it slammed Dominica overnight as a category 5 storm, lost some strength and now has regained 160 mph winds and category 5 status.
"It is headed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands later tonight and early on Wednesday," Minton said. "This is a dangerous storm."
Minton said it's on the same path as Hurricane Irma, but models move it a bit to the east of the Bahamas in a few days.
The Latest on tropical weather:
Maria is a monster -- a 160 mph hurricane over very warm water in the northeast Caribbean. It is expected to make landfall early Wednesday as a Category 4 or 5 storm in Puerto Rico, before curving toward the north and northwest toward the Bahamas.
The latest models keep the Bermuda high weak enough to prevent the storm from moving toward Florida or Georgia -- down the line, it’s not impossible it will impact the Carolinas northward.
Our team of Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologists will be watching it carefully over the next several days.
Hurricane Maria has regained Category 5 strength, upping its top wind speeds after it had briefly dropped to a Category 4 storm overnight near the island of Dominica.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says a hurricane hunter plane checking on Maria after it pounded that small Caribbean island says the storm strengthened anew early Tuesday and again has top sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph). The storm was located early Tuesday about 65 miles (100 kilometers) west-southwest of another Caribbean island, Guadeloupe. It’s moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).
Severe Weather Team 2 says a Category 5 hurricane is a major and extremely dangerous storm capable of catastrophic winds. They add that fluctuations in intensity were expected and that further strengthening is possible as the storm moves over warm Caribbean waters in coming hours and days.
NEW UPDATE MARIA: Hurricane Hunter Aircraft finds 160mph winds. Maria now CAT 5. Headed to Virgin Islands & P.R. pic.twitter.com/p2VCHTkHvS— Karen Minton (@KarenMintonWSB) September 19, 2017
Elsewhere, in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is producing dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. Forecasters say that storm is centered about 240 miles (390 kilometers) east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina — or about 365 miles (590 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. It’s moving to the north at 9 mph (15 kph) with top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).
Hurricane Maria, after pounding Dominica with high winds, has weakened slightly to a still extremely dangerous Category 4 major storm.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Tuesday that top sustained winds had fallen slightly to 155 mph (250 kph). It says high winds are now beginning to diminish over Dominica and that the eye of Maria is now about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west-northwest of that small Caribbean island. The storm is moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph) on a course that threatens other areas of the Caribbean including Puerto Rico.
Latest Hurr Maria track to Puerto Rico & V.I. tonight with 155mph winds.Storm surge 6-9' ~25" rain possible. pic.twitter.com/5rtbAObHgn— Karen Minton (@KarenMintonWSB) September 19, 2017
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose continues to move north over the Atlantic, churning up dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. That storm was located at 2 a.m. about 395 miles (635 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Hurricane Maria swept over the small island of Dominica with catastrophic winds overnight, starting a charge into the eastern Caribbean that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma and holds the possibility of a direct hit on Puerto Rico.
Fierce winds and driving rain lashed mountainous Dominica for hours, causing flooding and tearing roofs from homes. A police official on the island, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said late Monday that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was still too dangerous for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside.
“Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview while hunkered down against the region’s second Category 5 hurricane this month.
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