Latin America & the Caribbean / U.S. News

The Latest: Maria strengthens to Cat 3 hurricane

This image made available by the NOAA-NASA GOES Project shows tropical weather systems Hurricane Norma, left, on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico; Jose, center, east of Florida; Tropical Depression 15, second from right, north of South America, and Tropical Storm Lee, right, north of eastern Brazil, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at 2:45 p.m. EDT. (NOAA-NASA GOES Project via AP)

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on tropical weather (all times local):

11:10 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says that Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 3 storm as it headed toward the Caribbean.

Maria on Monday was “rapidly” intensifying into a major hurricane. The eye is expected to move through the Leeward Islands later Monday. The storm’s center was about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Martinique, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph).

The storm is on a path that would take it near many of the islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma and on toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Hurricane warnings were posted for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.

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10:30 a.m.

The ocean is washing over parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Hurricane Jose passes well to the east.

The state Transportation Department said in a Facebook post Monday that the affected areas encompass Pea Island, Rodanthe, Avon and Hatteras village on Hatteras Island.

Jose was about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras on Monday morning and moving north at 9 mph (15 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph).

DOT is urging drivers to drive slowly through the water. All roads are passable.

The National Weather Service warns of dangerous rip currents along the coast.

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9:10 a.m.

Five people were knocked off a coastal jetty in the U.S. Northeast by high surf caused by Hurricane Jose hundreds of miles (kilometers) away in the Atlantic.

Capt. Nelson Upright of the Narragansett Fire Department told WPRI-TV the injuries in Rhode Island ranged Sunday from minor to “pretty major.” He says rescuers had to fight through rough surf to load the injured onto stretchers and get them to shore. All five were taken to a hospital.

A witness who called 911 told the station the people were standing in two groups on different parts of the jetty as the storm-whipped waves crashed over the rocks. He says one person appeared to be unconscious and another had a significant leg injury.

Emergency officials along the coast are warning people to watch waves churned up by Jose from a safe distance.

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9 a.m.

Hurricane Jose is still far out in the Atlantic but warnings already are up in New Jersey for rough surf, powerful winds and even a chance for storm surge by midweek.

A tropical storm watch is in effect in New Jersey for all or parts of several coastal counties. Tropical storm conditions are possible Tuesday.

Jose, still far off in the Atlantic, is churning up the ocean and swimmers are advised to stay out of the surf.

Forecasters say wind gusts of up to 45 mph (72 kph) are possible, winds capable of downing trees and power lines.

The potential exists for a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet (1 meter) through early Wednesday afternoon. That could pose flooding along the coast and generate moderate beach erosion.

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8 a.m. EDT

Forecasters say Hurricane Jose is now about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and that a large stretch of the U.S. East Coast into New England should keep watch on the storm’s progress.

Jose is whipping up dangerous surf and rip currents as it heads north over the Atlantic off the heavily populated Eastern Seaboard. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) as of 8 a.m. EDT Monday. Forecasters say Jose is expected to pass well offshore of North Carolina’s coast through Monday, then head further north east of the New Jersey coast by Wednesday.

In the eastern Caribbean, Hurricane Maria is intensifying. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm now has top winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and is about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Martinique and set to become a major hurricane in coming hours. A hurricane warning has now been issued for St. Lucia.

The Miami-based hurricane center says Maria is expected to move across the Leeward Islands late Monday. ___

5 a.m. EDT

Authorities have issued a hurricane watch for Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria churns toward the Eastern Caribbean amid forecasts it could become a major hurricane by Monday night or early Tuesday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria was centered about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Martinique at 5 a.m. EDT Monday with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph). It is moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

Elsewhere, Hurricane Jose continues to head north over the Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast, causing dangerous surf and rip currents. Tropical storm watches have been posted along the coast from Delaware to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. Jose, with top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph), was located about 385 miles (620 kilometers) west of Bermuda. It was moving north at 9 mph.

In the Eastern Pacific, forecasters say, Tropical Storm Norma was expected to slowly weaken southwest of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Norma was about 160 miles (255 kilometers) southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, early Monday with top sustained winds of 50 mph (kph). Forecasters say no coastal warnings or watches are in effect for Norma.

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2 a.m.

A strengthening Hurricane Maria swirled toward the eastern Caribbean early Monday, with forecasters warning it probably would be a major storm by the time it passed through the already battered Leeward Islands later in the day.

Maria grew into a hurricane Sunday, and forecasters said it was expected to become much stronger over the next 48 hours following a path that would take it near many of the islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma and on toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Hurricane warnings were posted for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique. A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia. Other islands were warned to stay alert for changes in the storm. Hurricane watches were up in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the island shared by French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten, St. Barts and Anguilla.

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This story corrects to Jose, not Irma, in 3rd paragraph of 9 a.m. entry

 

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