Hurricane Maria intensified on Sunday as it headed toward the storm-staggered eastern Caribbean with 120 kilometres per hour winds, the US National Hurricane Centre said.
The storm is following the path of devastating Hurricane Irma, which means most of its victims have already been battered by weather within past week.
Storm warnings and watches went up in many of the Caribbean islands still reeling from the destructive passage of Hurricane Irma earlier this month.
As of 2100 GMT (2:30 am IST), Maria was a Category One hurricane, the lowest on the five point Saffir-Simpson scale, located 225 kilometres northeast of Barbados, the NHC said.
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“On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands Monday night and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday,” it said.
Maria is one of three storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, but it poses the most danger to the hurricane-battered Caribbean.
Maria has prompted a hurricane warning for Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds.
The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla -- many of which were devastated when Irma blew through the Caribbean, killing 44 people. A hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds.