TRACKER/UPDATES: Trump speaks with Puerto Rico governor

Storm to stay off Florida's coast by 400 miles

Headline Goes Here Chaiza Cardona/CNN

Here's the latest on the tropics, including powerful Hurricane Maria. (Watch video in player above, when available.)

THURSDAY

9:55 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken with the governors of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Trump said earlier Thursday that Puerto Rico was “absolutely obliterated” and the Virgin Islands were “flattened” by recent hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The entire island of Puerto Rico was left without power after Maria knocked out its already weakened electrical grid.

Trump said FEMA and other emergency responders are helping both U.S. territories begin the recovery process.

He says he’ll visit Puerto Rico.

8:05 p.m.

Hurricane Maria has continued to strengthen slightly as its large eye approaches the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says data from reconnaissance aircraft showed maximum sustained wind speed increasing Thursday to 125 mph (200 kph), up slightly from 120 mph (195 kph). It remains a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday or early Friday.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas beginning late Friday.

6:55 p.m.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose family is from Puerto Rico, says she hasn't yet heard from half her family after Hurricane Maria walloped the island.

Sotomayor, the high court's first Hispanic justice, was speaking Thursday at an event at the Newseum in Washington. She said Puerto Rico "is suffering a great tragedy right now."

Sotomayor says that she and her family in the United States are "exceedingly concerned." She asked for the crowd's prayers for Puerto Rico but also the other islands, Texas and Florida that have been recently impacted by hurricanes.

Sotomayor's parents immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico before she was born. Sotomayor grew up in New York.

6:15 p.m.

Authorities say Hurricane Maria's winds ripped palm frond roofs away from trees and caused some other damage to restaurants in the Bavaro beach resorts on Dominican Republic's east coast.

Restaurant workers on Thurssay sought to remove the fallen trees from rooftops and clear away debris left by the storm in the popular beach resort populated by eateries and shops. But Ernesto Veloz, president of the hotel association in the Bavaro-Punta Cana tourist area, said he was relieved damage wasn't any worse.

"Thanks to God, we didn't get the worst" of it, he said by phone.

Earlier, the hotel association in the Dominican Republic reported Hurricane Maria didn't inflict any serious damage to the county's tourism infrastructure.

6 p.m.

A day after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, flooding towns, crushing homes and killing at least two people, millions of people on the island faced the dispiriting prospect of weeks and perhaps months without electricity.

The storm knocked out the entire grid across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million, leaving many without power to light their homes, cook, pump water or run fans, air conditioners or refrigerators. Now many are hunting for gas canisters for cooking, collecting rainwater or steeling themselves mentally for the hardships to come in the tropical heat. Some are even contemplating leaving the island.

"You cannot live here without power," said Hector Llanos, a 78-year-old retired New York police officer who planned to go back to the U.S. mainland on Saturday to live there temporarily.

Like many Puerto Ricans, Llanos does not have a generator or gas stove. "The only thing I have is a flashlight," he said, shaking his head.

2:35 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard says a woman and two children were rescued from a boat that went missing off Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, but a man died aboard the vessel.

The Coast Guard in Miami said in a statement that a British Royal Navy helicopter hoisted three people Thursday from the capsized vessel. It had sent a distress call Wednesday saying it was disabled and adrift in seas with 20-foot (6-meter) waves and 100 mph (160 kph) winds near Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard says the dead man's body was not retrieved and that the boat had capsized.

The search included an HC-130 search plane, a fast response cutter, the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship and Navy helicopters.

The names of those on the vessel were not released.

1:50 p.m.

Hurricane Maria has strengthened slightly as it nears the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says data from reconnaissance aircraft showed maximum sustained wind speed increasing Thursday to 120 mph (195 kph), up slightly from 115 mph (185 kph). It remains a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday or early Friday.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in the central Bahamas beginning late Friday.

1:20 p.m.

New York City is sending emergency responders to Puerto Rico and is encouraging other city workers to volunteer with island recovery efforts.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Puerto Rico-born New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito discussed the Hurricane Maria efforts on Thursday. City workers will have to take vacation days or unpaid leave, but de Blasio says the city is trying to get them free transportation and places to stay. The city also is helping with fundraising.

Nine New York City police and firefighters stayed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma. Another 27 emergency responders will fly there when conditions allow. Emergency management personnel also will be deployed.

An emotional Mark-Viverito says her family is safe but that other City Council members still haven't heard from their loved ones.

1:10 p.m.

The search is on for a boat that went missing off Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria with two adults and two children aboard.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Miami said in a news release that the vessel named Ferrel sent a distress call Wednesday saying it was disabled and adrift in seas with 20-foot (6-meter) waves and 100 mph (160 kph) winds. Communications were lost with the boat near Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy are all assisting in the search Thursday. It includes an HC-130 search plane, a fast response cutter, the USS Kearsage amphibious assault ship and Navy helicopters.

The names of those on the vessel were not released.

12:55 p.m.

The prime minister of Dominica says more than 15 people are dead and 20 remain missing after Hurricane Maria's direct hit on the Caribbean island.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit cried as he spoke to a reporter on the nearby island of Antigua.

He said more than 15 people died due to the storm and that it was a miracle that the death toll was not in the hundreds.

The center of the Category 4 storm hit Dominica with massive force late Monday night and early Tuesday, destroying hundreds of homes and cutting off the mountainous island's communication systems and shutting its airport.

Skerrit says Dominica "is going to need all the help the world has to offer."

11:35 a.m.

People in Puerto Rico are slowly digging out from Hurricane Maria.

Many streets are blocked by downed trees and power lines. In some places, the roads are impassable because of floodwaters and people are getting around on rafts and kayaks. But there are also signs of life.

People are removing their storm shutters. Lines are forming at the few restaurants that have generator power. They are a mix of tourist and locals as well as families with small children. Crews are visible throughout the island clearing debris and assessing damage.

11:15 a.m.

Forecasters say a severe flood threat is continuing across Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria's outer rain bands pelt the island.

Senior Hurricane Specialist Mike Brennan at the U.S. National Hurricane Center says rains are expected to dump at least 4-8 inches (10-20 centimeters) of additional rain and up to 35 inches (85 centimeters) in isolated spots on the island.

"We're still seeing heavy rainfall occurring over Puerto Rico and that will exacerbate the flash flooding," Brennan said Thursday via social media from the Miami-based center.

He warned Puerto Rico residents who are venturing out after the storm to avoid areas near already flood-swollen rivers and not to attempt to cross flooded highways and roads on foot or in vehicles because of the threat to personal safety.

Forecasters say the ongoing rains also raise the risk of life-threatening mudslides.

10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump is providing an update on the U.S. response to a series of massive hurricanes.

The president says in a meeting with the president of Ukraine that Texas and Florida are emerging from the hurricanes but says Puerto Rico was "absolutely obliterated" and the U.S. Virgin Islands were "flattened."

Trump says Puerto Rico is in "tough shape" after it was ravaged by Hurricane Maria and notes that the "electrical grid is destroyed." The storm knocked out electricity to the entire island.

But he says FEMA and other emergency responders are helping the islands and the southern U.S. states recover.

The president has told reporters that he will visit Puerto Rico.

9:35 a.m.

Dominica Tourism Minister Robert Tonge (TUNG) is describing his badly damaged country three days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the eastern Caribbean island.

An update from Tonge says the capital of Roseau still has severe flooding and there's heavy damage throughout the city.

The hospital and a community center both lost roofs. One of two airports serving the country is inoperable while the other is expected to be operational in the coming days. An estimated 95 percent of the roofs were blown off in some towns, including Mahaut and Portsmouth.

There are at least nine communities that no one has any information about because they're cut off and most communications are down in the country.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is expected to speak from the island of Antigua later Thursday.

A number of people remain missing.

9:35 a.m.

The president of the hotel association in the Dominican Republic says Hurricane Maria didn't do any damage to the county's tourism infrastructure.

Joel Santos says that assessment includes Punta Cana on the eastern tip of the country. That was the area closest to the eye when the storm passed on its way toward the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands to the north. The government evacuated more than 4,000 tourists to the capital of Santo Domingo.

The meteorological service said Thursday that rain from the storm will continue in the Dominican Republic for the next two days for a total of around 19 inches (50 centimeters).

8:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory.

The declaration makes federal funding available to Puerto Ricans affected by the storm, which has knocked out power across the entire island Wednesday and caused flooding and landslides.

Maria has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean.

The Category 3 hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 kph). It's centered about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north-northwest of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

5 a.m.

Hurricane Maria is lashing the northeastern Dominican Republic early Thursday and is expected to pass near the Turks and Caicos later in the day.

The Category 3 storm's maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph (185 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says some strengthening is possible during the next day or so.

Maria, which has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean, is centered about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest near 9 mph (15 kph).

Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are rebuilding after the hurricane slammed into the U.S. territory Wednesday, crushing concrete balconies and paralyzing the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees.

3:30 a.m.

Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory.

The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remain isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone's safety.

2 a.m.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has regained its major hurricane status, rising to a Category 3 storm early Thursday.

An update from the Miami-based center says maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph (185 kph) with higher gusts.

Maria's fierce core was centered about 55 miles (85 kilometers) 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 northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. Maria should then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas tonight and Friday.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria hit. Trump's action early Thursday makes federal funding available to people on the island of St. Croix.

WEDNESDAY

11 p.m.

Weather officials have discontinued the hurricane warning for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the eye of Hurricane Maria is now about 55 miles (85 kilometers) northeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Maximum sustained winds are 110 mph (175 kph) and the storm is moving to the northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

The Miami-based hurricane center says hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Dominican Republic this evening.

The core of Hurricane Maria is expected to pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. Maria should then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas Thursday night and Friday.

Some strengthening is forecast during the next day or two, and Maria could regain major hurricane status by Thursday.

7 p.m.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism says people who want to visit the Caribbean territory should postpone their trip while authorities assess the effects of Hurricane Maria on St. Croix and recover from the damage to St. Thomas and St. John from Hurricane Irma.

The department says Hurricane Maria brought heavy rainfall and flooding to St. Croix when it passed to the south of the island and communications throughout the islands are limited.

There were no immediate reports Wednesday of any casualties from the storm on St. Croix.

5 p.m.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, dropping to a Category 2 storm after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday.

An update from the Miami-based center says a hurricane hunter plane clocked the top sustained winds of the storm at near 110 mph (175 kph) with higher gusts about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Maria's fierce core was centered about 25 miles (45 kilometers) north-northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

Forecasters say the dangerous storm system will continue moving away from the northwest coast of Puerto Rico in coming hours. It's then expected to pass offshore of the northeast coast of the Dominical Republic this evening and early Thursday.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Jose is still kicking up dangerous surf and currents along much of the U.S. Eastern seaboard. The storm's center was located at 5 p.m. Wednesday about 145 miles (235 kilometers) south-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts and had top sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). It's moving northeast at 8 mph (13 kph).

4:30 p.m.

The head of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency says the airport and seaports of Dominica remain closed after Hurricane Maria and officials are trying to work out the best ways to get relief supplies to the battered island.

Director General Ronald Jackson says in a radio interview that authorities are using helicopters to carry emergency food, water and shelter materials to Dominica. He added in the interview with RJR News of Jamaica that once the airport opens it will allow them to greatly expand the effort on an island where officials say the storm caused at least 7 deaths.

He also said Wednesday that relief agencies may have to drop people into remote communities with satellite phones because many areas are both inaccessible and there is little to no communication on the island.

2:45 p.m.

An official at the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center says there are no immediate reports of deaths or injuries on St. Croix from Hurricane Maria but a full assessment hasn't been completed.  Spokeswoman Nykole Tyson says the storm tore many roofs off of buildings and downed trees across the island.

Winds were still strong Wednesday more than five hours after the eye passed close to the island, making it too dangerous for people to venture out and conduct a thorough check.

Some people were trapped in their bathrooms or fled to their cars after losing the roof on their home. Tyson says the Department of Public Health building where she spent the night shook during the storm, which she called "frightening."

It comes after St. Thomas and St. John are still reeling from being hit by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6.

2:30 p.m.

About 4,000 tourists in the Bavara-Punta Cana area on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic have been moved to hotels in Santo Domingo because of Hurricane Maria.

Hotel Association President Joel Santos said the tourists were evacuated from the beach resort because of the threat posed by the powerful storm.

Maria was already triggering thunderstorms Wednesday and was expected to pass about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the area.

2 p.m.

Maria has weakened slightly to a Category 3 major hurricane after crashing across Puerto Rico and its center is now moving offshore of the island's northwest coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is slowly starting to move away from Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (185 kph). Little change in strength is forecast over the next 48 hours.

The Miami-based center says Maria was centered at 2 p.m. Wednesday about 15 miles (20 kilometers) west of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It's moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph). It's expected to pass offshore of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic late Wednesday and Thursday.

In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Jose's outer rainbands are approaching southern New England's coast. The hurricane center says dangerous surf and rip currents will affect much of the U.S. East Coast for days. Jose, a former hurricane, was about 140 miles (230 kilometers) south-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts with top sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph).

1 p.m.

Musician Tommy Torres posted video on Facebook that shows flooding in the tourist area of Green Island. 

"The sea entered all over the city," he wrote.

12:40 p.m.

Felix Delgado, mayor of the city of Catano on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, told WAPA Television that 80 percent of the homes in a hard-hit neighborhood known as Juana Matos are "destroyed."

There were no immediate details from Delgado. That report came after forecasters said Hurricane Maria was approaching the northern coast with destructive winds after raking over the island.

Maria, which left at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph (250 kph). Maria slowly crossed the island, knocking down communication towers, snapping trees and unloading heavy rains. Widespread flooding was reported across the island, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers.

11 a.m.

Hurricane Maria is now approaching the northern coast of Puerto Rico as destructive winds and flooding are continuing.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the eye of the Category 4 major hurricane is now located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of San Juan, the capital. Maximum sustained winds are 140 mph (220 kph) and the storm is moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

The Miami-based hurricane center says little change in strength is expected in the coming 48 hours as Maria remains a dangerous major hurricane. It says tropical storm conditions are expected to begin in the Dominican Republica this afternoon with hurricane conditions starting there later Wednesday night. Forecasters say the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas will see worsening conditions Thursday morning with the expected arrival of hurricane winds Thursday evening.

7:55 a.m.

An adviser to Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says there have been seven confirmed deaths in the Caribbean country from Hurricane Maria.

Hartley Henry didn't give details about how the deaths occurred. They raise the overall death toll to eight from the storm including one on the French island of Guadeloupe.

Henry says the country is "in a daze" with no electricity or power and little to no communications.

He said in a statement Wednesday that there has been a "tremendous loss of housing and public buildings" in the mountainous island but the full extent of the damage isn't known. The storm struck the country Monday and Tuesday and is now over Puerto Rico.

7:55 a.m.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third strongest storm to make landfall in the United States based on a key measurement meteorologists use: air pressure.

The lower the central pressure a storm has, the stronger it is and Maria's pressure was 917 millibars. That's lower than Irma's U.S. landfall of 929 millibars in the Florida Keys earlier this year, as well 2005's Hurricane Katrina landfall of 920, which had been in third place.

Only two hurricanes hit the United States, U.S. islands or Hawaii with a stronger pressure: the 1935 Labor Day storm that hit the Florida Keys and 1969's Camille that devastated the Gulf Coast.

7:20 a.m.

Zinc roofs were already flying and windows were breaking as Maria approached Puerto Rico before dawn, with nearly 900,000 people without power and one tree falling on an ambulance.

Those who sought shelter at a coliseum in San Juan were moved to the building's second and third floors, reported radio station WKAQ 580 AM. The storm was moving across Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning at 10 mph (17 kph), with a gust of 113 mph (182 kph) reported in the capital of San Juan, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Puerto Rico had long been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island. The last Category 4 hurricane landfall in Puerto Rico occurred in 1932, and the strongest storm to ever hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 160 mph  (257 kph).

7 a.m.

Hurricane Maria has made landfall in Puerto Rico.

The National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 Hurricane made landfall early Wednesday near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. It had a sustained wind of 155 mph (250 kph).

It was located about 30 miles (50 kph) south-southeast of San Juan.

5:15 a.m.

Hurricane Maria has weakened to a Category 4 storm as it closes in on Puerto Rico but remains a dangerous hurricane that threatens to decimate the power company's crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.

Maria's maximum sustained winds Wednesday morning are near 155 mph (250 kph) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm should keep that intensity until it makes landfall.

As of 5 a.m. EDT, Maria is centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is moving northwest near 10 mph (17 kph).

4:35 a.m.

The prefect of the French island of Guadeloupe has raised the death toll stemming from Hurricane Maria from one to two people.

Eric Maire said Tuesday night that in addition to one person who "did not comply with the confinement instructions" and was killed by a falling tree, another person died after they "fell in the sea."

The identity of either of the fatalities is unknown.

The Guadeloupe prefecture has also said two people are reported missing after a shipwreck near the French island of Desirade.

France's interior minister Gerard Collomb said there were three people wounded in Martinique, including one seriously.

The extent of the damage from Tuesday's hurricane is yet to be assessed on those French territories.

3:45 a.m.

Puerto Rico faces what officials say could be the strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. territory as they warned it would decimate the power company's crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.

Maria barreled toward the island with 175 mph winds and forecasters said it was expected to make landfall Wednesday midmorning along Puerto Rico's southeast coast as a Category 5 storm, punishing the island with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours.

 

The number of power outages spiked as Maria approached, with the storm centered early Wednesday about 70 miles (115 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

TUESDAY

11 p.m.

The eye of Category 5 Hurricane Maria is approaching St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami reported Tuesday night that the storm was about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south-southeast of St. Croix and about 120 miles (190 kilometers) southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Maria has 175 mph (280 kph) winds and is moving west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

Forecasters expect the core of storm with to reach southeastern Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2017 by WKMG ClickOrlando. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.