MIAMI (AP) -- UPDATE:
U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp says that the track of Hurricane Maria has shifted and the eye is now expected to pass over the southwestern tip of St. Croix.
That means parts of the island are expected to experience the full force of the storm winds that have now reached 160 mph (260 kph). Conditions are expected to deteriorate tonight with the approach of the "extremely, extremely dangerous hurricane."
The Virgin Islands are already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which passed over the islands of St. Thomas and St. John.
Mapp warned Tuesday that Maria is expected to bring up to 12 inches of rain to St. John.
Forecasters say potentially catastrophic Hurricane Maria is continuing on its course toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 11 a.m. that the extremely dangerous Category 5 storm is forecast to hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
The top sustained winds of the storm are near 160 mph (260 kph) and the Miami-based center says some fluctuations in intensity are likely over the coming days.
The eye of Maria was about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe or about 170 miles (275 kilometers) southeast of St. Croix. It was moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph (16 kph).
Meanwhile, Jose remained a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic as it whipped up dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast. It was about 335 miles (539 kilometers) south-southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and had top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).
As of 5:10 a.m. -
Hurricane Maria has regained Category 5 strength, upping its top wind speeds after it had briefly dropped to a Category 4 storm overnight near the island of Dominica.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says a hurricane hunter plane checking on Maria after it pounded that small Caribbean island says the storm strengthened anew early Tuesday and again has top sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph). The storm was located early Tuesday about 65 miles (100 kilometers) west-southwest of another Caribbean island, Guadeloupe. It's moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).
Forecasters say a Category 5 hurricane is a major and extremely dangerous storm capable of catastrophic winds. They add that fluctuations in intensity were expected and that further strengthening is possible as the storm moves over warm Caribbean waters in coming hours and days.
Elsewhere, in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is producing dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. Forecasters say that storm is centered about 240 miles (390 kilometers) east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina -- or about 365 miles (590 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. It's moving to the north at 9 mph (15 kph) with top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).