Powerful Maria targets storm-weary Puerto Rico, Jose weakens to tropical storm

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At the time, the population of Puerto Rico was a little over 1.5 million.

The projected storm track is such that the most severe conditions may target St. Croix and southeast Puerto Rico.

Extreme winds and rain pounded the Caribbean island of Dominica late on Monday, as Maria made landfall with 160 miles per hour winds.

"Its been a bit of an emotional ride.it's my first hurricane that I saw from Irma. and I really didn't want to stick around for this next one". Puerto Rico has opened 500 shelters as it prepares for the powerful hurricane. The tracking models increasingly agree Maria will curve north out to sea after passing near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Although Hurricane Irma had top sustained winds of 185 MPH, Irma's pressure never dropped below 914 MBs.

The National Weather Service is forecasting catastrophic damage as Puerto Rico deals with a direct hit from Hurricane Maria Wednesday morning.

"My greatest fear.is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains".

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Guadeloupe prefect Eric Maire said up to 400 millimeters of rain were forecast in some parts of the island.

While many buildings are built to withstand hurricanes, the further loss of electricity, flooding and mudslides are among the chief concern of residents, she said.

A hurricane warning is in effect for several islands in the Caribbean, including Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, Martinique, St. Lucia, and the USA and British Virgin Islands.

Combined, Irma and Maria have now retained Category 5 status for more than four days, a tally not exceeded since the 1932 hurricane season, according to Colorado State University hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach.

Reports from reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the area of hurricane-force winds has increased in size.

"Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely unsafe major hurricane", the National Hurricane Center stated Monday.

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