MIAMI (AP) - Forecasters say Hurricane Maria has become a Category 5 storm as the eye nears Dominica.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm with 160 mph (260 kph) winds.
The hurricane is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica and moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).
Hurricane Maria has intensified into a dangerous Category 4 storm as it bears down on the Caribbean.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday the storm is growing in strength as it approaches land. The eye of the storm is expected to pass near the island of Dominica on Monday evening.
The center called the storm "extremely dangerous," with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph).
At 5 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica.
A Hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
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