As of 11 a.m. ET on Monday (Sept. 18), Hurricane Maria, which rapidly strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 mph (195 km/h), was just a few hours from numerous Caribbean islands that were heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The island of St. Croix looked to face hurricane force winds with nearby St. Thomas and St. John seeing tropical storm force winds, Mapp said, adding, "given the current conditions of St. Thomas and St. John, that's not good".
"Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely unsafe major hurricane", the National Hurricane Center stated Monday.
Maria was moving northwest at 10 miles per hour, the center said.
"We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history", Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a televised message on Tuesday.
In Puerto Rico, the government has set up shelters as it prepares to accommodate storm evacuees.
NHC NOAAThe NHC warns of dangerous storm surges striking the coast of Puerto Rico with fierce flooding
Latest footage from Puerto Rico shows extremely strong winds thrashing the island.
"We were asking him to have more resources in terms of electrical teams that can help us out to solve the situation and recover the infrastructure of the power grid on the island".
As of Tuesday night, the NHC in Miami said the storm's winds had intensified to 175 miles per hour and could become stronger still.
There are also concerns that heavy rain could cause landslides in some places, and that a predicted storm surge of up to 9 feet (2.7m) could swamp low-lying areas.
As Jose heads further out to sea, the concern for many is now Hurricane Maria. It just missed the worst of Irma, which scraped along its north shore, but an estimated 1 million people lost electricity because of its fragile power infrastructure.
Hurricane Jose lingers in Atlantic, will it head toward US?
Jose's maximum sustained winds are 75 miles per hour , which barely register it as a hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
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