(AP) — The US National Hurricane Centre says Maria has regained its major hurricane status, rising to a Category 3 storm early Thursday.
An update from the Miami-based centre says maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph (185 kph) with higher gusts.
Maria’s fierce core was centred about 55 miles (85 kilometres) northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
It will continue to move away from Puerto Rico during the next several hours, and then pass offshore of the north-eastern coast of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. Maria should then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the south-eastern Bahamas tonight and Friday.
US President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the US Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria hit.
Trump’s action early Thursday makes federal funding available to people on the island of St Croix.
Weather officials have discontinued the hurricane warning for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.