(CN) — Residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are being warned to brace themselves for a potentially catastrophic encounter with Hurricane Maria on Wednesday.
The storm, which at times has packed sustained winds as high as 160 mph, swept over the small island of Dominica overnight, starting a charge into the eastern Caribbean that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.
U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said Tuesday that the track of Hurricane Maria has shifted and the eye is now expected to pass over the southwestern tip of St. Croix.
That means parts of the island are expected to experience the full force of the storm winds. Conditions are expected to deteriorate tonight with the approach of the “extremely, extremely dangerous hurricane.”
Mapp also warned residents that Maria is expected to bring up to 12 inches of rain to St. John.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the eye of Maria is currently about 85 miles west of Guadeloupe, placing it roughly 170 miles southeast of St. Croix. It has been moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph.
Meanwhile, Jose remained a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic as it whipped up dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast. It was about 335 miles south-southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and had top sustained winds of 75 mph.