Maria potentially catastrophic as it tears through Caribbean
In its 11 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm was 115 miles west of Guadalupe and 150 miles southeast of St. Croix. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 160 mph, with higher gusts.
Maria was moving west-northwest at a speed of 10 mph - a direction which is expected to continue through Wednesday.
The NHC called the storm "potentially catastrophic" - barely a week after Hurricane Irma tore through the same region.
"The eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea [Tuesday], and then pass near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday" forecasters said.
"Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico."
The NHC said the "western portion of the ridge is forecast to weaken, partially due to the influence of the large circulation of Hurricane Jose off the U.S. East Coast." ■