Cuba Reports on Hurricane Maria, Dominica PM Pleas for Help

Hurricane Maria heads for Irma-damaged areas as a Category 5 storm

Hurricane Maria is shown in the Atlantic Ocean about 85 miles east of Martinique in this September 17, 2017 NASA handout satellite photo.

Maria could hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, said Ernesto Morales with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan.

The NHC added: "A unsafe storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 7ft to 11ft feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where the centre of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands".

The Category 5 storm, with winds clocking at more than 160 miles per hour, hit Dominica on Monday evening, leaving what Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt described on Tuesday as "widespread devastation".

Hurricane Jose is a Category 1 storm cruising up to the north and expected to come very close to the northeastern U.S.

Mapp warned that hurricane-force winds were expected to howl across St. Croix for eight hours, accompanied by up to a foot and a half (46 cm) of rain that would be followed by almost a week of additional showers.

Hurricane Maria had just left Dominica causing widespread damage and was said to be moving roughly along the same track as Irma, the hurricane which devastated the region earlier this month. The National Hurricane Center said the island could take a direct hit from Maria late tonight or on Wednesday.

A hurricane warning is in effect and several shelters are now open. Maria's path also crossed Martinique, French Guadeloupe and St. Lucia.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló said, "We want to alert the people of Puerto Rico that this is not an event like we've ever seen before".

Officials said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to bring drinking water and help restore power in Puerto Rico immediately after the storm.

Hurricane conditions are expected to continue over the island for the next few hours.

Central and southern Leeward Islands - 10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches.

Dominica was the first island to feel Maria's force.

Maria is the seventh hurricane in the Atlantic this season.

This season is also significantly ahead of the average measures for major hurricane days and accumulated cyclone energy (a measure of storm strength, duration, and frequency).

Officials in the Dominican Republic urged people to leave areas prone to flooding and said fishermen should remain in port.

The influence of Hurricane Jose to the north will help steer Maria away from Florida, Devitt said.

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