Hurricane Maria pummels Dominica, barrels toward US Virgin Islands; see pictures
Hurricane Maria, the second major storm to hit the Caribbean this month, crept toward the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday after it ripped through the small island nation of Dominica, causing widespread devastation. Hurricane Maria, an "extremely dangerous" storm, regained Category 5 strength as it churned about 205 miles (325 km) southeast of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early on Tuesday. The storm plowed through Dominica, an island nation of 72,000 people in the eastern Caribbean, late on Monday causing widespread devastation, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a Facebook post.
In this photo Hurricane Maria is shown in the Atlantic Ocean in this NOAA's GOES East satellite as it strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane just east of the Leeward Islands. (Image: NASA)
With maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), the storm slammed into the island as a Category 5 hurricane.
In this photo A car passes next to a banner warning of a "Red Alert" for rains as Hurricane Maria approaches in Pointe-a-Pitre. (Image: Reuters)
While the intensity of the hurricane may fluctuate over the next day or two, Maria is expected to remain a category 4 or 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the Miami-based NHC said.
In this photo US Marines Corps haul their gear out of a MV-22B Osprey that evacuated them to the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as US military continues to leave the US Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands. (Image: Reuters)
The storm was on track to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea and, by Tuesday night or early on Wednesday, approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, where millions are still reeling from Hurricane Irma earlier this month. (Image: Reuters)
If Maria retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the US island territory in 1932, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
In this photo Crewmen direct pilots aboard a MV-22B Osprey on the deck of the USS Kearsarge as the evacuation of US military personnel from the US Virgin Islands continues in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands. (Image: Reuters)
Boats remain anchored in a wharf as Hurricane Maria approaches in Guadeloupe island. (Image: Reuters)
The last major hurricane to strike Puerto Rico directly was Georges, which made landfall there as a Category 3 storm in 1998.
A Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey takes off from the USS Kearsarge aircraft carrier as US military continues to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria, in the Caribbean Sea near the islands. (Image: Reuters)
Puerto Rico narrowly avoided a direct hit two weeks ago from Hurricane Irma, which reached a rare Category 5 status and ranked as the most powerful Atlantic storm on record before devastating several smaller islands, including the US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. (Image: Reuters)
In this photo Crewmen rush out to secure a CH-53 Super Stallion transport helicopter after it landed on the USS Kearsarge as the evacuation of US military personnel from the US Virgin Islands continues in advance of Hurricane Maria. (Image: Reuters)
Maria marks the 13th named Atlantic storm of the year, the seventh hurricane so far this season and the fourth major hurricane - defined as Category 3 or higher - following Harvey, Irma and Jose. (Image: Reuters)
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