After hitting the Caribbean nation of Dominica last night, the Category 5 Hurricane Maria is now headed toward Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands.
The hurricane temporarily weakened after Dominica and was downgraded to a Category 4 storm, but it’s now back up to Category 5, according to the National Hurricane Center, which called the storm “potentially catastrophic.” It is currently sustaining maximum winds of 160 miles per hour and moving west-northwest at 9 miles per hour. As cities struggle to recover from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, Maria will likely continue on this road through Wednesday.
"Initial reports are of widespread devastation," Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Facebook. "My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains."
Meanwhile, hurricane warnings are in place for many islands, including St. Kitts, Nevis, and Guadeloupe. Water levels could rise by up to nine feet in Puerto Rico, accompanied by flash floods. Puerto Rico's public safety commissioner, Hector Pesquera, was very blunt about the danger of the storm: "You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die. I don't know how to make this any clearer."