After slicing through the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe, Maria, described as "potentially catastrophic" by the National Hurricane Center, was moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour over the northeastern Caribbean Sea with maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour on Tuesday (Sept 19) evening.
The Hurricane Centre said some fluctuations in intensity were likely over the next day or so, but Maria was forecast to remain an extremely risky hurricane.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Maria had regained strength, with sustained winds of up to 160mph, as it approached the British Virgin Islands (BVI). On St John Island, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, locals reported seeing trees dramatically swaying in swirling winds, with rain pouring "sideways".
"It's just: Hunker down and pray, a lot of praying", said Cinthia Cotto, who moved to Puerto Rico from Hartford earlier this month to care for her aging parents.
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At the time, the population of Puerto Rico was a little more than 1.5 million people.
She brushed by the French island of Martinique yesterday, leaving most of the island unscathed.
San Juan prepares for Hurricane Maria.
He expects the entire island to lose power and be in a blackout for days. "That is not going to happen because we are blessed, we're a blessed island and I think it's not going to happen as long as God is in front of it", said Chef Sio of Boricua Kitchen. And as we saw with Hurricane Harvey, even a downgraded hurricane or tropical storm can cause massive destruction and chaos.
"There's no way of getting to airport and if she could get to the airport, there was no flights out and if there were, they were extremely expensive", he said.