Category 5 Hurricane Maria's maximum sustained winds have increased to 175mph, the AP reports. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter plane took the reading Tuesday evening as the storm was about 70 miles southeast of St. Croix. Maria is moving west-northwest at 10mph and is expected to pass near the US Virgin Islands on Tuesday night and hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands, as well as St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat and portions of the Dominican Republic. Hurricane center forecasters say it "now appears likely" that Maria will still be at category 5 intensity when it moves over the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria is expected to bring "life-threatening" flooding from rain and storm surge. (Read more Hurricane Maria stories.)