Maria now a category five and catastrophic damage likely across Caribbean

NEW ORLEANS – Hurricane Maria has become the second category five storm of the hurricane season and also the second category five to affect the Leeward Islands in a month.

Maria continued to rapidly intensify Monday and managed to go from a category one to a category five hurricane in less than 24 hours as maximum sustained winds increased to 160 mph.

Maria will make landfall on the island of Dominica overnight and will head straight for the U.S. island of Puerto Rico, possibly making landfall there on Wednesday. Hurricane warnings are currently in effect for the Northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico and a hurricane watch is in effect for the northern and eastern coasts of the Dominican Republic.

Beyond Puerto Rico, Maria should remain a major hurricane as it heads for the Turks and Caicos and then finally turning north into the Atlantic as the high pressure system currently steering the storm begins to weaken.

Meanwhile Hurricane Jose continues to move north in the Atlantic parallel to the United States coast. While the center of Jose is not expected to make landfall, the sheer size of the storm means tropical storm winds are likely along the the New England coastline and tropical storm warnings are in effect for Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Long Island and Connecticut.

Jose is expected to slowly transition into a non-tropical system and should be completely non tropical by Thursday, although winds will still be tropical storm strength as it slowly drifts back to the southwest. Due to the odd nature of the track, Jose will be closely monitored well into next weekend.