HURRICANE Maria is just miles from smashing into the US Virgin Islands en route to Puerto Rico with winds of up to 175mph (280kmph), according to the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The NHC warned that the “eye of potentially catastrophic category 5 Hurricane Maria [is] nearing St Croix”, as the storm is just 30miles south-southeast of the US Virgin Islands.
The 11pm EDT update from the NHC added Hurricane Maria is around 120miles from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it is expected to smash into on Wednesday morning.
Forcaster have said several tornadoes are possible over Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands tonight and on Wednesday.
Earlier the NHC said “preparations against life-threatening” Hurricane Maria should be “rushed to completion”.
The 11pm EDT public advisory said a Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, Vieques and from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, Guadeloupe and parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
West of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as well as west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque have been warned that “tropical storm conditions are expected”, according to the NHC advisory.
A Hurricane Watch remains in place for Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, St Martin, St Barthelemy, the Dominican Republic – from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano – as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas.