Barbados remains under a tropical storm watch with a flood warning now extended until 6 p.m. today, as Hurricane Maria rapidly intensifies into a major hurricane.
At 11 a.m. the centre of the system was located near 14.7 degrees north, 60.1 degrees west or about 117miles or (188km) north-northwest of the island.
Maria is currently packing maximum sustained winds near 120 miles per hour (195 km/h) with higher gusts and significant strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours.
The system is moving west-northwestward near 12 miles per hour (19km/h) and this motion, with a reduction in forward speed, is expected through Tuesday.
“On this present track, it is currently passing to the north of Barbados. Over the past 24 hours, rainfall accumulations . . . ranged between four to six inches (100 to 250mm), as outer feeder-bands continue to move across the island,” the local met office said in its 11 a.m. bulletin.
“As the centre of the system continues to move towards the north and northwest of Barbados, moderate to heavy showers and periods of light to moderate rain are expected to persist throughout the day, hence the flood warning has been extended until 6 p.m. today,” it added.
Forecasters also warned that additional rainfall accumulations of three to five inches (75 to 125mm) were likely while urging residents 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 and these conditions will persist into tonight. In addition, large southeasterly swells of at least four to six metres (13 to 20 ft) are also forecast to accompany the system. Hence, a high-surf advisory and small-craft warning remain in effect until noon Tuesday,” the met office further advised.