Local September 19, 2017 | 8:42 pm

Dominican Republic hopes Maria skips its shores

Miami.- The ‘potentially catastrophic’ category 5 Hurricane Maria strengthened again Tues. to maximum sustained winds of 165 MPH (265 KPH) as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center (CNH) in Miami, EFE reports.

In the Dominican Republic residents are hoping that Maria copies the track set last week by Hurricane Irma, which skirted the country’s northern coat without causing fatalities of major damage.

CNH forecasters said Maria is approaching the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with “destructive” winds, storm surges and torrential rains.

Maria, which landed Monday night on the Caribbean island of Dominica, where it unleashed extensive damage, is 140 miles (225 km) west of Guadalupe and 110 miles (175 km) southeast of Saint Croix (Virgin Islands Americans), the CNH said in its 18.00 GMT bulletin.

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