Barbados remains under a tropical storm watch as Maria is upgraded to a hurricane.
At 5 p.m. the centre of Hurricane Maria was located by an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft near 13.8 degrees north, 57.5 degrees west or about 140 miles (225 km) east-northeast of Barbados.
Maria is moving west-northwestward near 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), and this motion with a further reduction in forward speed is expected over the next day or so. On this present track, forecasters say the centre of the system is expected to pass between 80 and 100 miles to the north of Barbados early tomorrow. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 miles per hour (120km/h) with higher gusts and further strengthening is forecast over the next 48 hours.
Feeder bands have been generating periods of rain, pockets of moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms, some of which have already started to spread across the island.
As a consequence, a flood warning is in effect until 6 a.m. tomorrow. Rainfall accumulations of three to five inches (75 to 125mm) are likely. Thus, residents are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions.
Sustained wind-speeds of 29 to 35 miles per hour (46 to 56km/h) with gusts to storm force can also be expected from tonight and these conditions are expected to persist into tomorrow.
In addition, large easterly swells of at least four to six metres (13 to 20 ft) are also forecast to accompany the system. A buoy to the north of Barbados has already reported a maximum wave height of 3.7 metres (12ft). Hence, a high-surf advisory and small-craft warning remain in effect until noon on Tuesday, September 19.