Where is Hurricane Maria now?
At 2am EDT Maria was located about 90 miles north-northeast of Barbados and about 270km east-southeast of Dominica, according to the latest NOAA National Hurricane Center update.
The category 1 hurricane is moving at 13mph in a west-northwesterly direction and is expected to become a major category 3 or above storm by the time it reaches the Leeward Islands at about 8pm tonight.
Maria currently has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and is expected to strengthen rapidly during the next 48 hours.
The NOAA said in its latest advisory: “On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late today and tonight and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night.
“Hurricane conditions are first expected within portions of the Leeward Islands by late today, with tropical storm conditions beginning during the day today.”
HURRICANE MARIA PATH LIVE UPDATES
Will Maria hit Florida and the USA?
The latest spaghetti models put Maria on track to reach the east coast of the USA, however meteorologists have said that it is too early to forecast whether there will be a direct hit.
The Weather Channel wrote: “Whether Maria will ever pose a threat to the US will depend on steering currents in the upper atmosphere over the western Atlantic Ocean and the eastern United States that cannot be pinned down more than a week in advance.
“Interestingly, the potential for Jose to stall off the Northeast coast this weekend could play some role in determining Maria’s long-term future path.
“Also, if Maria interacts with the higher terrain of Puerto Rico and/or Hispañiola, that could also affect its future track and intensity.”
The Weather Channel added that any possible hit would not come until the end of September.
AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel told USA Today that Maria could turn north away from the east coast.
“Unfortunately it looks like a blocking high-pressure system could force it into Florida,” he added.
Florida is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irma, with buildings ruined, streets flooded with sewage, and tens of thousands left without power.
Schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are re-opening today, while children in Florida keys and other areas that were among the worst hit won’t return to class for another week.
At least 84 people died as a result of the storm, including 26 in Florida.