After lashing Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where the scope of the devastation is still unclear, Hurricane Maria began to batter Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday.
A Category 3 storm, Maria is located 55 miles northeast of Grand Turk Island and about 455 miles southeast of the Bahamas, and moving northwest at 8 mph. the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. Friday advisory.
Forecasters added that the hurricane still has maximum sustained winds of 125 mph.
A tropical storm watch for the central Bahamas was changed to a tropical storm warning as the storm moves in a northwesterly direction — away from Caribbean islands.
A hurricane warming remains in effect for the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands. Water levels are expected to rise for 4-6 feet and destructive waves are anticipated in storm surges in the hurricane warning areas.
Maria is not expected to hit land in the Caribbean, though hurricane-force winds can extend outward up to 60 miles from the center of the storm.