Meteorologists had a major clue that Hurricane Maria would be devastating

Posted September 21, 2017

The Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 miles an hour, is just 120 miles southeast of San Juan, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Officials have urged residents to seek shelter and warned that the category 4 storm's powerful winds would be life-threatening. The eye of the storm can be clearly seen in the video, with swirling cloud surrounding it.

As many as 25 inches of rain are expected to hit Puerto Rico, with storm surges of up to 9 feet and the possibility of tornadoes on Wednesday, the San Juan office of the U.S. National Weather Service said.

The storm ripped off the roofs of houses as it pummeled the island as an extremely unsafe Category 5 storm, according to The National Hurricane Center.

Maria was moving toward the west-northwest and this general motion was expected to continue through Wednesday night.

Mr. Skerrit said that "the winds have swept away the roofs of nearly every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with".

"This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon", Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told the Associated Press this week. Hundreds of islanders left their homes and fled to shelters.

Men remove boats from the water ahead of Hurricane Maria in the Galbas area of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. A Hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, is now bracing for Hurricane Maria as it heads towards the U.S. territory, Reuters reported.

"Several tornadoes" were also projected for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday and Wednesday. While the storm diverted north instead of directly hitting Puerto Rico, more than 1.5 million people lost power, Reuters reported.

It may weaken slightly but is still expected to be an "extremely unsafe category 4 or 5" when it hits Puerto Rico, the hurricane center said.

As with any hurricane, don't focus exclusively on wind speed - the storm surge and rain matter too.

Some residents and tourists got on the last flights to Florida, hoping to avoid the monster storm all together.