Hurricane Maria was upgraded to Category 5 strength on Monday evening and was described as a "potentially catastrophic" storm by the National Hurricane Center as it heads toward Dominica and Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico, making the U.S. territory eligible for federal assistance if it's damaged by the storm. Trump also did so for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"The extremely dangerous core of Maria is expected to pass over Dominica within the next hour or two. Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane warning has been issued for that island," said the National Hurricane Center.
Maria is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, where residents are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which killed three on the island. If Maria maintains at least Category 4 strength by the time it reaches Puerto Rico, it will be the strongest storm to directly hit the island in 85 years.
Hundreds of shelters have been opened in Puerto Rico and the government is bracing for many parts of the island to lose electricity. Some parts of the U.S. territory have been ordered to evacuate.
"It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend or head to a state shelter," Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, said on social media.
As of 9 p.m EDT, Maria had winds up to 160 mph and was roughly 5 miles southeast of Dominica.
Florida, which was hit especially hard by Hurricane Irma, is not expected to be hit by Maria, but Hurricane Jose is still bringing coastal flooding, tropical-storm-force winds, high surf and unforgiving rain on some parts of the East Coast in the U.S -- including New England.
"Dangerous surf and rip currents [are] expected to continue along the east coast of the United States" due to Jose, said the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria make 2017 the first year in a decade with two Category 5 storms. There have been four major storms this hurricane season.