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Category 5 Maria takes aim at islands devastated by Irma

A radar view of Hurricane Maria. Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Maria has strengthened into an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 hurricane as it bears down on Caribbean islands already ravaged by Hurricane Irma, per the National Hurricane Center.

  • In its path: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands are all under a hurricane warning with Maria's effects expected Tuesday into Wednesday.
  • The effects: Potentially a Category 5 storm by the time it hits Puerto Rico, Maria could dump around a foot of rain, along with a massive storm surge of six to nine feet. Maria's winds will likely top 130 mph — but, in one bit of good news, its strongest winds remain confined to a small area near the eye.
  • Not a surprise: National Geographic points out that — though this hurricane season was forecast to be more active than usual thanks to atmospheric and thermal conditions — it's not exactly out of the ordinary for the Atlantic.