UPDATE: Hurricane Maria made landfall Wednesday morning as a strong Category 4 storm in southeast Puerto Rico, near the city of Yabucoa, the National Hurricane Center said.
At landfall, Maria had sustained winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph short of Category 5 status. It was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico since 1932.
On Monday, Hurricane Maria strengthened into a Category 3 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of up to 120 mph. The storm is expected to cross over the Leeward Islands, the eastern Caribbean islands recently ravaged by Hurricane Irma, before moving over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday. Hurricane warnings are now posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, St. Lucia, and Martinique, many of which were hit by Irma. The National Hurricane Center says “additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” with winds potentially reaching 140 mph. It’s not yet clear whether Maria poses a threat to Florida, though it remains a possibility.
BREAKING: Hurricane Maria strengthens to major Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds, per National Hurricane Center pic.twitter.com/Y8lDtcjj7H
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 18, 2017