Cat 4 Hurricane Maria lashes Dominican Republic
In its 5 a.m. advisory, the NHC said the center was 70 miles north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and 70 miles northeast of Las Terrenas. Maximum sustained winds were 115 mph and the storm is heading northwest at 9 mph.
A turn toward the north-northwest is expected on Friday
"Hurricane Maria will continue to pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic today. Maria should then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas tonight and Friday," the NHC said.
The storm remains a Category 4 hurricane.
"Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in portions of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas [Thursday night], with tropical storm conditions beginning in these areas later," the NHC said.
Rainfall in several Caribbean islands - including the Dominican Republic - could cause life-threatening mudslides and flooding. ■