made landfall in Puerto Rico early Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph, and it was expected to punish the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours, forecasters said.
The storm weakened slightly overnight, but officials there predict entire towns will have to be rebuilt.
Overnight, it pounded St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico had long been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island. The last Category 4 hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico occurred in 1932, and the strongest storm to ever hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 160 mph.
Follow along below for live updates on the storm. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.
12:37 p.m.: Puerto Rico asks Trump for disaster declaration
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello has asked President Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to federal aid.
On Twitter, Rossello urged people to have faith: “We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”
Maria is one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit Puerto Rico and could deepen the U.S. territory’s financial crisis.
12:21 p.m.: Roof, water tank take flight as Maria strikes
Some of the damage being reported in Puerto Rico include:
- El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported that an emergency medical station in the north coastal town of Arecibo lost its roof.
- People calling into local radio stations said that doors flew off hinges and a water tank flew away in the island’s southern region.
- Widespread flooding was reported in the capital of San Juan.
- About 90 percent of customers were without power.
11:44 a.m.: Parts of Puerto Rican capital lose communication
Parts of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan have lost communication as Hurricane Maria moves over the U.S. island, law enforcement officials told CBS News.
CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reported on CBSN that winds from the Category 4 hurricane broke off the tops of palm trees and shattered windows.
The storm also caused trees…