Caribbean braces again as Tropical Storm Maria could become hurricane

Soldiers securing a portable tent while breaking down a field hospital, during an evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie on Sept 17, 2017.
Soldiers securing a portable tent while breaking down a field hospital, during an evacuation in advance of Hurricane Maria, in Charlotte Amalie on Sept 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MIAMI (REUTERS) - Tropical Storm Maria was expected to reach hurricane status later on Sunday (Sept 17), and hurricane watches were in effect for several Caribbean islands, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

Some of the islands were devastated by Hurricane Irma earlier this month.

Maria was about 655 km east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles islands with maximum sustained winds of 105kmh at 8am EDT (8pm Singapore time), the NHC said.

"Strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours," the forecaster said.

Hurricane conditions are possible by Monday night or Tuesday in Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and Anguilla, according to the NHC.

Tropical storm conditions were possible on Monday in those areas as well as St. Lucia, Martinique, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.