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20 September 2017, 12:53 | Colleen Roy
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Cruise lines have already started changing itineraries but not on the scale of Hurricane Irma which hit many Caribbean islands and Florida over a week ago.
"We should treat the approaching hurricane very, very seriously, " Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica warned.
"We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds", the prime minister said.
"Our islands are extremely vulnerable right now", the territory's premier Orlando Smith said in a statement, warning that the storm could turn debris left by Irma into unsafe projectiles.
Maria is estimated to be moving along a similar track to that of Irma - the hurricane that devastated the same region earlier this month.
The Dominican Republic is under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible in the eastern portion of Hispaniola-another prior victim of Irma.
"Maria is likely to strengthen significantly, and is expected to be at major hurricane intensity when it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing risky wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards", the National Hurricane Center said in a forecast.
Hurricane Maria was about 15 miles (25 km) east-southeast of Dominica, with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km per hour), the NHC said in its latest advisory.
After it passes over Dominica, it is on course to score a direct hit on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the first hurricane of its strength to do so in 85 years. USA and British Virgin Islands can expect 10 to 15 inches, and isolated areas of up to 20 inches.
Meanwhile, hurricane warnings are in place for many islands, including St. Kitts, Nevis, and Guadeloupe. A tropical storm warning is also in force for Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, St Lucia and Anguilla. The category five hurricane left more than 35 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The hurricane center's five-day projections have Maria moving near the northeastern Bahamas as a major hurricane by early Sunday morning.
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite captured an image of Jose overnight at 3:36 UTC on Sept. 18 (11:36 p.m. EDT, Sept. 17) as the storm was moving due north at 9 miles per hour well off shore from the coast of North Carolina.
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