Maria is maintaining its category 3 hurricane status as it closes in on Grand Turk Island.
The 11pm EDT update from the NHC reports the eye of Hurricane Maria as just 65miles (110km) east-southeast of the island and around 85miles northeast of Puerto Plata, in the Dominica Republic, which has been devastated with flooding.
Rainfall on Puerto Rico as well as parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Bahamas “will continue to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides”, according to the Miami-based hurricane center.
The NHC public advisory also noted “Maria is not in a hurry and is taking its time” but added “some fluctuations in intensity are likely” over the coming days
A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in place for the Dominican Republic from west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the DR and Haiti.
A Tropical Storm watch is in effect for central Bahamas.
The NHC said: “At 11pm EDT (3am UTC), the eye of Hurricane Maria was located near latitude 21.0 North, longitude 70.2 West.
“Maria is moving toward the northwest near 8mph (13kmph) but a motion toward the north-northwest is anticipated for Friday and Saturday.”
“On the forecast track, Maria’s eye will gradually move away from the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and then move near or just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas on Friday.
“Maximum sustained winds are near 125mph (205kmph) with higher gusts. Maria is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during Friday and Saturday.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70miles (110km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160miles (260km).”
It continued: “Hurricane and tropical storm conditions continue across portions of the Dominican Republic, but should begin to subside during the next several hours.
“Hurricane conditions are expected in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas soon and will continue through Friday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas beginning late Friday.
“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area in the Dominican…