HOLT, Fla., Sept. 18, 2017–Hurricane Maria strengthened to a category five storm with 160 mph winds.
An 8 p.m. EDT update by the National Hurricane Center states landfall is expected on the island of Dominica within the next hour or two.
Reports from Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft at 7:45 p.m. EDT indicated Maria continues to rapidly strengthen, making this storm a potentially catastrophic hurricane, according to the NHC, and additional strengthening is possible during the next 24 hours.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.
The storm is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 mph. This general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday, according to the NHC.
Maria is forecast to move near Dominica and the adjacent Leeward Islands during the next few hours, over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea the remainder of tonight and Tuesday and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Maria is the 14th storm, 13th named storm, seventh hurricane and fourth major hurricane this season, for those keeping track.