Category 5 Hurricane Maria Powers Up for Another Blow to the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Watch Remains for Parts of Long Island as Hurricane Jose Gets Closer to Coast

"We do not know what is happening outside. We were brutally hit". A police official on the island, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said late Monday night that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was too unsafe for officers to check conditions.

Dominica is particularly vulnerable to flooding because of its steep mountains, cut through with rivers that rage even after a heavy rain.

That is expected to be accompanied by rainfall that "will cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides".

The storm knocked out communications for the entire country, leaving anyone outside Dominica struggling to determine the extent of damage, though it was clearly widespread. My total upstairs, the ceiling and everything collapsed.

Maria is the 13th named Atlantic storm of the year, the seventh hurricane so far this season and the fourth major hurricane - defined as Category 3 or higher - following Harvey, Irma and Jose, the NHC said.

Maria, which has been fluctuating in intensity between a Category Four and Category Five hurricane on its path through the Caribbean, hit Dominica with winds of up to 160 miles (257 kilometres) per hour, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Hurricane conditions should spread throughout portions of the hurricane warning area in the Leeward Islands tonight and early Tuesday.

Maria is the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Dominica.

Maria weakened briefly before dawn on Tuesday to a still major Category 4 storm after its rampage over Dominica.

Officials on the neighboring French island of Guadeloupe reported at least one death: a person hit by a falling tree. "The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God", Skerrit wrote at the start of a series of harrowing posts on Facebook. My roof is gone.

"The winds have swept away the roofs of nearly every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with", Skerrit said in a Facebook post, describing an avalanche of torn-away roofs across the country, including that of his own residence. "House is flooding." Minutes later Skerrit reported he had been rescued from his home in Dominica.

Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely risky category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Any deviation south or west could take hurricane Maria closer to Florida and the US eastern coastline.

Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossello, urged residents on Twitter to brace for Maria's arrival, saying, "It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend or head to a state shelter". However it is worth keeping an eye on Maria as it passes the Caribbean with the current track similar to Irma. "You just don't see those in weaker hurricanes", McNoldy said.

President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the island and ordered Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist the commonwealth.

The debris it left is now scattered across the island, ready to be picked up again by Hurricane Maria.

There is a tropical storm warning for Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and Anguilla, and a tropical storm watch for west of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic-Haiti border.

More than 1,300 United Kingdom troops are now deployed in the region, and were sent to help with relief and fix work after Hurricane Irma caused chaos.

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