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8 a.m. Update: Maria increases in strength

NATASHA BECKLES, [email protected]

8 a.m. Update: Maria increases in strength

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At 8 a.m. the centre of Hurricane Maria was located near 14.6°N, 59.7°W or about 102 miles or 164km 
north of Barbados.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts and significant strengthening is forecast during the next forty-eight hours.

The system is moving west-northwestward near 12mph (19km/h), and this motion with a reduction in forward speed is expected through Tuesday.

On this present track, the centre is currently passing to the north of Barbados.

Minimum central pressure was 967mb or 28.56 inches.

Over the past twelve hours, rainfall accumulations across Barbados ranged between two and three inches (50 to 75mm), as outer feeder-bands continue to move across the island.

As the centre of the system continues to move towards the north and northwest of Barbados heavy shower activity is expected to become more frequent, hence the flood warning has been extended until noon today, Monday September 18.

Total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches (75 to 125mm) are likely. Thus, residents are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions.

Sustained wind speeds of 29 to 35mph (46 to 56km/h) with gusts to storm force can also be expected across Barbados today and these conditions will persist into tonight.

In addition, large southeasterly swells of at least 4 to 6m (13 to 20 ft) are also forecast to accompany the system. Hence, a high-surf advisory and small-craft warning remain in effect until noon on Tuesday.

Maria is currently a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane before it moves through the Leeward Islands. (NB)