Hurricane Maria to intensify as it heads toward Puerto Rico: what we know

It’s been less than two weeks since Hurricane Irma slammed into the Eastern Caribbean as a Category 4 storm, devastating many of the tiny islands in its path before barreling into Florida. One of the worst hit islands, Barbuda, had to completely evacuate for the first time ever. Now, some of these same islands in the Caribbean — including the US and British Virgin Islands and the US territory Puerto Rico — are facing a new, stomach churning threat: Hurricane Maria.

Maria, which went from tropical storm to hurricane on Sunday, rapidly intensified Monday, becoming a major Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds. And it’s expected to continue to strengthen in the next two days; sustained 150 mph winds are possible by the time it reaches Puerto Rico on Wednesday. “Maria is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane during the next couple of days,” the National Hurricane Center stated Monday.

Maria is the seventh hurricane in the Atlantic this season. And while that seems like a lot, it’s happened before. According to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach, there are eight other years on record that have had seven storms by September 17. We’re at the peak of hurricane season, where the Atlantic waters are the hottest they get for the entire year. And more storms can certainly form.

How to follow Hurricane Maria

  • The National Hurricane Center has a page updating every few hours with the latest watches and warnings for Maria. Check it out.
  • Follow the San Juan branch of the National Weather Service on Twitter. They tweet in both Spanish and English. Follow the NWS’s Atlantic Ops account too.
  • Follow the Capital Weather Gang’s Twitter account. These folks tend to live-tweet storm updates.
  • Here’s a Twitter list of weather experts via meteorologist Eric Holthaus. These experts will give you up-to-the second forecasts and warnings.