Hurricane Maria to Become Major Storm Near Caribbean IslandsEnvironment | September 18, 2017, Monday // 09:31| views
Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane as it nears the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, reported BBC.
The category one hurricane will rapidly strengthen over the next 48 hours and will hit the islands late on Monday, the US National Hurricane Center says.
It is moving roughly along the same path as Irma, the hurricane that devastated the region this month.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.
A hurricane watch is now in effect for the US and British Virgin Islands, St Martin, St Barts, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.
Some of these islands are still recovering after being hit by Irma - the category five hurricane which left at least 37 people dead and caused billions of dollars' worth of damage.
In its latest update at 03:00 GMT on Monday, the NHC says Maria has maximum sustained winds of 85mph (137 km/h).
The eye of the storm is 140 miles north-east of Barbados, and Maria is moving west-northwest at about 13mph.
"On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late Monday and Monday night and then over the extreme north-eastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night," the NHC says.
The most southerly point of the Leeward Islands - where Maria will first strike - include Antigua and Barbuda. The latter island was evacuated after being devastated by Irma.