HURRICANE MARIA: Storm batters Turks and Caicos

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Map of path of Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria was pushing through the Turks and Caicos islands today as a Category 3 storm with heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge.

Maria could dump as much as 20 inches of rain in some spots on a path that will take it to the Bahamas and eventually the open Atlantic.

Meanwhile, bands of rain continued to soak parts of Puerto Rico, even as the center of the hurricane moved away.

The Weather Channel said the storm also continues to pound the Dominican Republic with heavy rain and strong winds. Wind gusts over 60 mph have been clocked along the northeast Dominican Republic coast.

The Weather Channel said Maria has killed at least 30 people in the Caribbean and tens of thousands of people were without power in the Dominican Republic.

Maria was expected to slowly weaken during the next 48 hours and then will begin to lose strength faster as it reaches colder waters in the Atlantic.

The Weather Channel said the center of Maria should remain well to the east of the Southeast U.S. coast through the next five days.

The Washington Post said, however, that it was too soon to say Maria is not a threat to the East Coast; the storm could come uncomfortably close to North Carolina’s Outer Banks by about Wednesday.

If Jose weakens quickly or does not stall the way forecast models are suggesting, Maria would have the opportunity to track closer to the East Coast midweek, the Post said.

Singer Marc Anthony said he was supporting relief efforts for Puerto Rico. Anthony joined supporters of the United for Puerto Rico initiative spearheaded by the island’s first lady, Beatriz Rosselló.

Maria devastated Puerto Rico, knocking out power to the entire island in the worst Category 4 storm to hit there directly since 1932.

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