MIAMI, Florida- The NHC has upgraded Maria to a hurricane, and it’s centered as of 5 p.m. AST over the Atlantic Ocean about 140 miles (225 km) east-northeast of Barbados and about 275 miles (445 km) east-southeast of Dominica. Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph (24 km/h), and this motion,, with a decrease in forward speed, is expected through Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands Monday night and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday.

Reconnaissance data indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria could be near major hurricane intensity when it moves across the Leeward Islands Monday night.

A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Martinique, Antigua, Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Saba , St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands through Wednesday night. Maria is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches for the northern and central Windward Islands. In all the above areas, these rainfall amounts could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Get the very latest on Maria at