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Weather watchers keep eye on Hurricane Maria churning toward East Coast

19 September 2017

Mother Nature is showing no mercy for the another powerful hurricane is barreling its way towards the region's eastern islands.

Lee's maximum sustained winds sputtered to 35 miles per hour, and are expected to further weaken in the coming days. It now has estimated maximum winds of a punishing 160 miles per hour.

Norma had winds of about 50 mph (85 kph) and it was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southwest of Cabo San Lucas. The center adds the hurricane is developing a "dreaded pinhole eye" that makes the storm spin faster.

One bit of good news emerged from the Caribbean: The French island of Martinique suffered no major damage, the French Interior Ministry tweeted Tuesday. It will be a rough night in the Leeward Islands. At 8 p.m. Atlantic Time, September 18, 2017, Maria was just ranked as a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane.

The ferocity of Maria bears striking similarities to Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that hit the Bahamas and Florida in 1992, says CNN meterologist Pedram Javaheri.

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FPL's outage map online shows more than 700-thousand people on the east coast of South Florida are still without power. They include 27 in Florida, four in SC and three in Georgia.

The US and British Virgin Islands could see up to 15 inches of rain with isolated amounts of 20 inches, the latest update said. Virgin Islands, where electricity may not be restored for months.

The island's airport and ports have been closed, and the local water company shut down its systems to protect its intake valves from debris churned up by the storm. However, as of now, it doesn't appear that there will be a landfall on the U.S. mainland.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Maria to a category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.

Puerto Rico sheltered numerous evacuees who fled from other Caribbean Islands during Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

According to the National center for the prevention of storms United States of America, constant wind speed inside Mary reaches 215 km / h.

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Maria is expected to approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Much of the Caribbean is still reeling from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. We're at the peak of hurricane season, where the Atlantic waters are the hottest they get for the entire year.

Our nice - but dry - weather streak goes on. Afternoon readings will hold in the mid 80s, with overnight lows in the mid 60s every day this week along with little chance of rain.

The hurricane is approaching the Leeward Islands with a track that threatens to bring its center quite close to St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica.

Puerto Rico's public safety commissioner delivered the stark message, warning the island's 3.4 million residents: "You have to evacuate".

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Maria is following a different projected path than Irma, as NPR's Bill Chappell reported.

Weather watchers keep eye on Hurricane Maria churning toward East Coast