Maria now a hurricane
TROPICAL STORM MARIA has now reached hurricane strength and Barbados remains under a Tropical Storm Watch.
At 5 p.m. the centre of Hurricane Maria was located by an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft near 13.8°N, 57.5°W or about 140 miles (225 km) east-northeast of Barbados.
The system is moving west-north-westward near 15 mph (24 km/h), and this motion with a further reduction in forward speed is expected over the next day or so.
On this present track, the centre is expected to pass between 80 and 100 miles to the north of Barbados early tomorrow.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph (120 km/h) with higher gusts and further strengthening is forecast over the next 48 hours. Minimum central pressure was 982 mb or 29.00 inches.
Feeder bands have been generating periods of rain, pockets of moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms, some of which have already started to spread across the island.
As a consequence, a flood-warning is in effect until 6 a.m. tomorrow, Monday, September 18. Rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches (75 to 125 mm) are likely. Thus, residents are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions.
Sustained wind-speeds of 29 to 35 mph (46 to 56 km/h) with gusts to storm force can also be expected across Barbados from tonight and these conditions are expected to persist into tomorrow.
In addition, large easterly swells of at least 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) are also forecast to accompany the system.
A buoy to the north of Barbados has already reported a maximum wave height of 3.7 m (12 ft).
Hence, a High-Surf Advisory and Small-Craft Warning remain in effect until 12 noon Tuesday, September 19. (PR)