MARIA’S LARGE EYE (40 nautical miles in diameter) PASSING OFFSHORE OF THE NORTHEASTERN COAST OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Hurricane Maria is centered as of 11 a.m. AST about 105 miles (175 km) east-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and about 155 miles (255 km) southeast of Grand Turk Island. Maria is moving toward the northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through tonight. A turn toward the north-northwest is forecast early Friday, with that motion continuing through early Saturday. On the forecast track, Maria’s eye will continue to pass offshore of the northern coast of the Dominican Republic today, and then move near or just east of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeast Bahamas tonight and on Friday.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeast Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and west of Cabo Engano to Andres/Boca Chica. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Central Bahamas. Hurricane and tropical storm conditions continue across portions of the Dominican Republic. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeast Bahamas later today, with hurricane conditions expected tonight or early Friday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the Central Bahamas beginning late Friday. Strong gusty winds are still possible today over portions of Puerto Rico, especially in heavier rainbands that are moving over the island.

Data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds remain near 115 mph (185 km/h) with higher gusts. Maria is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some strengthening is possible during the next day or so. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km). The minimum central pressure based on aircraft data is 960 mb (28.35 inches).