(SAN JUAN) — Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
While the storm’s maximum sustained winds had dropped to 145 mph by 9 a.m. ET, it still threatened to do severe damage to the U.S. territory. A Category 4 storm has not hit the island since 1932.
Hurricane Maria was moving at 13 mph, and the storm’s eye was located about 15 miles away from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, as of 9 a.m.
A weather station near Arecibo, some 43 miles from San Juan, recently reported a sustained wind of 71 mph and a wind gust of 91 mph.
“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the National Hurricane Center warned.
Storm surge was predicted to be 6 to 9 feet in coastal Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rainfall totals for Puerto Rico were projected at 12 to 18 inches, with as much as 25 inches in isolated areas.
Maria is forecast to cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday and then approach the Dominican Republic, where conditions will deteriorate Wednesday evening as Hurricane Maria passes just north of Punta Cana around midnight.
Forecast models currently show the storm traveling east of Florida and the Carolinas.
The storm did severe damage to multiple Caribbean islands over the past 36 hours, including Dominica, Guadeloupe and the Virgin Islands.
Guadeloupe confirmed two people were killed and two others were missing due to the storm.
There was widespread damage across Dominica, as could be seen in the first aerial video from the tiny island taken Tuesday.
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