MIAMI, USA — Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that Hurricane Maria’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. Maria is currently a Category 2 hurricane with additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane before it moves through the Leeward Islands.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Martinique, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Saba, St Barthelemy, St Eustatius, St Maarten, St Martin, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Interests elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles and the Dominican Republic should monitor the progress of this system.
All schools and government offices in Dominica will be closed on Monday and the government has declared a public holiday so that private sector employees are not required to work.
The government of Saint Lucia has ordered that all schools, businesses and government offices to be closed on Monday until the all clear is given.
All educational institutions in Barbados, including all public nursery, primary and secondary schools, the Barbados Community College, the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, will remain closed on Monday.
The ministry of education encouraged all private schools to remain closed as a tropical storm watch, flood warning, high surf advisory and small craft warning, remain in effect for Barbados as Hurricane Maria makes its way across the region.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 8:00 am EDT on Monday, the centre of Hurricane Maria was located about 85 miles (135 km) east of Martinique and about 120 miles (195 km) east-southeast of Dominica, moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h). This motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday night.
On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late Monday today, and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km).
Hurricane conditions are first expected within portions of the Leeward Islands by late Monday, with tropical storm conditions beginning earlier in the day. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions possible Monday night. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical storm watch area through Monday night.
A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet above normal tide levels near where the centre of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands.
Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night. Maria is also expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 8 inches over the remaining northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla, as well as the Windward Islands and Barbados. Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Swells generated by Maria are affecting the Lesser Antilles. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.