Maria Rains Lashing Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Maria Rains Lashing Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Maria, which went from tropical storm to hurricane on Sunday, rapidly intensified Monday, becoming a major Category 3 storm with 125 miles per hour winds.

Maria is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico by Wednesday morning or early afternoon, before making its way to the Dominican Republic in the evening, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

Puerto Rico has been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island.

"Maria is likely to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by midweek as a unsafe major hurricane".

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A drastically more impactful storm, Hurricane Maria, is making a beeline for Puerto Rico just weeks after Hurricane Irma hit the island.

The storm's eye had passed over St. Croix in the Virgin Islands overnight, bringing hours of hurricane force winds. The storm was upgraded from a category two to three and then five in just one day.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say, "Be careful, our hearts are with you". Many of its 3.4 million residents live on the eastern half of the island, which forecasters worry will endure the brunt of the most powerful hurricane ever to hit Puerto Rico. The island's population is about 9,000 people.

An uprooted tree covers a small house in the village of Viard - Petit Bourg, near Pointe-a-Pitre, on September 19, 2017 in the French territory of Guadeloupe after the passage of Hurricane Maria.

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"Right now we're in a blackout zone, so it's very, very hard to communicate with Guadeloupe", Witkowski said.

Today, more than 3.3 million people call the US territory home.

About 40 percent of the island - 80,000 homes - were without power and flooding was reported in several communities. We could see a few storms on Wednesday.

"We have lost all what money can buy and replace", Dominica's premier Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook, saying there were initial reports of "widespread devastation".

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"There's no way of getting to airport and if she could get to the airport, there was no flights out and if there were, they were extremely expensive", he said.

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