Tracking the tropics: Jose stays off shore; Maria threatens the Caribbean

Will Maria follow in Irma's footsteps?

Will Maria follow in Irma's footsteps?

According to Dominica's Prime Minister Skerrit, whose roof was torn off his house by the 155mph winds of Hurricane Maria, has said that "almost every person I have spoken to" have had their roofs torn off their houses.

Last night Dominica PM Roosevelt Skerrit sent out a chilling message on his Facebook page indicating that his roof had blown off and that he was "at the mercy of the hurricane".

Hurricane Maria is rapidly intensifying in the Caribbean and is likely to hit some of the same areas recently devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Dominica is located south of Puerto Rico and home to about 75,000 people. For now, at least, it looks as though Maria will turn north before reaching Florida.

US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp said Maria would pass within 16 kilometres of St Croix, which has a population of 55,000 and escaped the wrath of Hurricane Irma. The ports are expecting the possibility of sustained gale force winds greater than 39 mph within the next 24 hours.

"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion", the NHC said, warning of "large and destructive" storm surge waves in Maria's path.

As of 0900 GMT the storm was about 160 kilometres (100 miles) east of Martinique and moving at 13 mph, the NHC said. But the strong winds associated with the hurricane are well off the coast.

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Hurricane conditions should spread through the remainder of the Hurricane Warning area Tuesday and Wednesday.

Weather forecasters are also keeping an eye on Hurricane Jose in the Atlantic. The storm is nonetheless expected to bring tropical storm conditions - including winds, rainfall, and risky surf - to coastal and Mid-Atlantic areas. "Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides from heavy rainfall are expected across the Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands".

Eastern Dominican Republic - 4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.

SURF: Swells generated by Maria are affecting the Lesser Antilles.

Hurricane Hugo killed five people in Puerto Rico in 1989, and Hurricane Georges caused more than $1.7 billion in damage to the island in 1998.

At 8 a.m. Monday, the National Hurricane Center said Maria had become a Category 2 storm.

Maria is the seventh hurricane of an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season, making this only the ninth year on record with seven hurricanes by September 17. Construction cranes have been dismantled in order to prepare for the high winds.

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