Maria strengthens into an ‘extremely dangerous’ category 4 hurricane

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Hurricane Maria rapidly intensified on Monday, becoming an “extremely dangerous” category 4 storm as it reached the northeast Caribbean, U.S. forecasters say. Additional strengthening is possible over the next few days.

As of 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Maria was located about 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Dominica, or 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of Martinique. Its maximum sustained winds have increased to 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, making it a category 4 hurricane.

“Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye,” said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center. He added that atmospheric and oceanic conditions appear favorable for rapid strengthening through Tuesday and possibly longer, during which it could become a category 5 hurricane.

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