Devastating Maria's center makes landfall in Puerto Rico

Oxalis Garcia

Little change in strength is forecast over the next 48 hours.

Maria is expected to turn north after leaving Puerto Rico and not threaten Florida.

Later this week and this weekend, Maria is expected to start moving to the northwest just east of the Bahamas.

To the north, Hurricane Jose weakened to a tropical storm Tuesday night.

There were no immediate details from Delgado.

The storm's center passed near or over St Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp to insist that people remain alert.

Maria's winds weakened to 155 miles per hour, prompting the hurricane to be downgraded from a Category 5 to a 4. "Effects such as potential flooding and high winds that can turn debris into risky projectiles can have a greater and more treacherous impact for us". Although Hurricane Irma had top sustained winds of 185 MPH, Irma's pressure never dropped below 914 MBs. Hurricane watches have been issued for the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano.

Multiple islands - including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - are under a hurricane warning as Hurricane Maria continues to rage in the Caribbean.

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San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC that the devastation in the capital was unlike any she had ever seen: "Half of San Juan is flooded at this point". However, it appeared the two French islands did not suffer heavy damage. He said his friend's hospital room "has significant water on the floor, and still has no air conditioning (it is hot and humid here)".

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had deployed about 70 personnel to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to inspect damage from the storm and assess environmental recovery efforts.

Check out the latest LOLA animation of wave heights associated with the storm as it moves through Puerto Rico and the surrounding area.

President Donald Trump tweeted his best wishes and pledged support for the US territory late Tuesday. Puerto Rico missed the brunt of it, but still saw massive power outages because of the storm.

Those who sought shelter at a coliseum in San Juan were moved to the building's second and third floors, reported radio station WKAQ 580 AM. He said he has asked President Trump to declare Puerto Rico a disaster zone, which would clear the way to federal aid, according to AP. It was the first category four hurricane to directly hit the island since 1932. The area where Maria made landfall is not heavily developed, the newspaper said. The eye was about 25 miles (40 kilometres) west of San Juan.

Guadeloupe and Martinique, which both neighbor Dominica in the Caribbean, were also battered with Maria's powerful winds and rain Monday night. An adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says the storm killed at least seven people there, according to the AP.

The identity of either of the fatalities is unknown.

"We are getting absolutely hammered right now".

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