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Hurricane Maria weakens to Category 4 storm

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Posted at 8:24 AM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 06:33:36-04

TUESDAY UPDATES FOR HURRICANE MARIA HERE

8PM MONDAY UPDATE: Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 5 Hurricane, with sustained winds up to 160 mph. The National Hurricane Center has called it a "potentially catastrophic" hurricane.

The eye has made landfall in Dominica. Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands.

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5PM MONDAY UPDATE: Hurricane Maria is now a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds up to 130 mph. It is moving W/NW at 9 mph as it tracks towards the Leeward Islands.

Puerto Rico is expected to take a direct hit by Wednesdays.

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11AM MONDAY UPDATE: The rapid intensification continues and Hurricane Maria is now a Category 3 storm, a major hurricane, with sustained winds up to 120 mph. Forward speed has slowed, now moving W/NW at 10 mph as it tracks toward the Leeward Islands. Additional strengthening is expected.

A Hurricane Warning is now in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands, meaning hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area. 

The forecast track did not change significantly, Maria is sitll expected to track through the northern Leeward Islands tonight or early tomorrow before approaching Puerto Rico Wednesday. 

It is still too early to determine potential U.S. impacts. 

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8AM MONDAY UPDATE: Hurricane Hunters found that Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 110 mph and gusts to 115 mph. The center of Maria is currently located about 120 miles E/SE of Dominica and is tracking W/NW at 12 mph. 

Additional strengthening is expected today, and Maria is forecast to become a major hurricane while approaching the Leeward Islands. A Hurricane Warning is in place for islands such as Dominica, St. Kitts, Martinique, and St. Lucia. A Hurricane Watch is in place for several islands including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 

It is still too early to determine potential impacts to the continental U.S., although most long-term models keep Maria east of the Florida peninsula. It is important to note that there is a large margin of error in models 7-10 days out, and the track could change at any time. We will keep you updated.