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Maria becomes Category 1 hurricane with sights set on northeast Caribbean

MIAMI -- Maria becomes a hurricane and is forecast to continue strengthening as it approaches the Leeward Islands, northeast Caribbean, according to officials.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) released its 5 p.m. public advisory Sunday announcing that the storm is moving west-northwest at 15 mph with sustained winds of 75 mph -- and this motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday.

NHC also reports that the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands Monday night and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105
miles, according to NHC.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center released its 5 p.m. advisory to announce that Maria is now a Category 1 hurricane. This is the NHC's latest forecast as seen on Sun., Sept. 17, 2017. U.S. National Hurricane Center

NHC adds that the government of Antigua and Barbuda issued a hurricane warning for St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat while a hurricane watch is in effect for U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, Anguilla.

Hurricane Maria is located about 140 miles east-northeast of Barbados and about 275 miles east-southeast of Dominica.

Meanwhile, long-lived Hurricane Jose was moving northward off the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard. The NHC says Hurricane Jose has sustained winds of 90 mph, according to its 5 p.m. public advisory. It is located 335 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and 415 miles west of Bermuda and is moving about 9 mph.

Forecasters say the storm is expected to cause dangerous surf and rip currents. Swells from the storm are affecting the Bahamas, Bermuda and much of the East Coast, according to the NHC.

While Jose is projected to weaken and veer away from any direct impact on the coast, the Hurricane Center said a minor shift could bring tropical-storm-force winds to North Carolina's Outer Banks or areas to the north.

NHC says a tropical storm watch is in effect from Fenwick Island, Delaware, to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, including Delaware Bay South, and from East Rockaway Inlet, New York, to Plymouth, Massachusetts, including Long Island Sound, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles.

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