Maria Grows to a Cat 2, Nears Already Battered Caribbean

Hurricane Maria strengthened into a Category 2 storm on Monday and pushed toward the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, as forecasters warned it was expected to become a major hurricane by early Tuesday.

The storm was on a path that would take it near many of the islands already wrecked by Hurricane Irma and then on toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Maria could hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, said Ernesto Morales with the U.S. National Weather Service in San Juan.

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“This storm promises to be catastrophic for our island,” he said. “All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds.”

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) Monday morning. It was centered about 120 miles (195 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica — or 85 miles (135 kilometers)



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