Hurricane Maria intensifies to category 5 ahead of landfall
Texas : Hurricane Maria has risen up to become the rare category 5 storm ahead of landfall in the eastern Caribbean.
Maria was upgraded to the pinnacle of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale as its maximum sustained winds reached 160 miles per hour (215 km per hour), with higher gusts, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported.
"Maria continues to strengthen and is expected to be at major hurricane intensity when it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards," the Center said.
"Maria is likely to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week as a dangerous major hurricane."
Maria is one of three storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, but it poses the most danger to the hurricane-battered Caribbean, CNN reported.
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 hurricane watch is in effect for the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla.
The catastrophic hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25 resulting in massive floods and deaths of 83 people.
Irma, the most intense storm in the Atlantic, hit the Caribbean islands on August 30, leaving a trail of destruction through Puerto Rico, Cuba and Florida. It killed 82 people.
(IANS with added inputs)