Hurricane Maria quickly strengthened into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm on Monday evening, hours after it had formed into a Category 3 earlier in the day.
The storm was 45 miles east-southeast of Dominica with maximum sustained winds up 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. advisory.
As Maria continues to strengthen in the Atlantic Ocean ahead of landfall, a hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques, in addition to previous warnings in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
The eye of the storm is expected to pass near the Caribbean island nation of Dominica Monday night.
Maria’s path is forecast to move northward for the next couple days.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico’s governor has declared a state of emergency, and has activated the National Guard ahead of Maria’s arrival.
“We are informing citizens that it is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend or move to a state shelter because…