Hurricane Maria maintained its status as a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning as the system moved towards the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters expect it to continue to strengthen during the next 24 to 36 hours.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the centre of the storm was about 15 miles east south-east of Dominica and moving west north-west at about 9mph.
Hurricane Jose is a Category 1 storm cruising up to the north and expected to come very close to the northeastern U.S.
Maria's sustained winds of least 130 miles per hour make it a Category 4 storm as of 5 p.m. ET, and it's still rapidly intensifying.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for the British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, St. Lucia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The NHC warned Maria would "remain extremely dangerous" as it passed over the British and U.S. territories.
Waters are expected to reach 6 to 9 feet above normal levels if the storm surge arrives at high tide in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
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He urged St. Croix residents take cover in one of three emergency shelters on the island. "House is flooding." After being rescued, the prime minister expressed his concerns for the safety of the island's residents.
He said: "During the middle to latter part of next week, possibilities range from the hurricane remaining offshore to an encounter with the United States mainland from the Carolinas on north".
In Martinique, authorities ordered people to remain indoors and said they should prepare for cuts to power and water.
"We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst", said Chris Austin, head of a United Kingdom military task force set up to deal with Irma, as the British Virgin Islands readied for a new onslaught.
VA-TF2 just returned from Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts and storms ravaged much of the Caribbean.
The island is ready to accept close to 63,000 people into 450 shelters, over 125,000 if necessary. There are still almost 200 people in shelters from Hurricane Irma.