Hurricane Maria’s path: Track the storm here

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close Wind gusts dying down as dangerous hurricane begins to pull offshore following direct hit on Puerto Rico; Steve Harrigan reports from San Juan

First responders assess Maria's damage in Puerto Rico

Wind gusts dying down as dangerous hurricane begins to pull offshore following direct hit on Puerto Rico; Steve Harrigan reports from San Juan

A Category 3 storm, Hurricane Maria is heading for the Turks and Caicos Islands Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.

Maria briefly downgraded to a Category 2 storm Wednesday but gained more strength by Thursday morning.

Early Wednesday, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, destroying hundreds of homes and knocking out power to the entire U.S. territory of 3.4 million people.

The storm's center passed near or over the U.S. Virgin Island of Saint Croix overnight Tuesday.

saint croix

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Courtesy of Alesia Georgiou)

Saint Croix, largely spared the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irma just weeks ago, this time experienced five hours of hurricane force winds, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said.

Here's what you should know about Maria’s path.

Where is Maria today?

Hurricane Maria is approximately 140 miles east-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and 135 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island, according to the National Hurricane Center's 2 p.m. ET advisory Thursday.

HURRICANE WARNING VS. WATCH: HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

The storm is traveling northwest at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.

What else should I know about the hurricane?

The Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeastern Bahamas are under a hurricane warning, the National Hurricane Center said.

“A warning means that hurricane conditions are expected whereas a watch means that conditions are possible,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service.

Maria already ravaged the Caribbean nation of Dominica, leaving “widespread devastation,” according to Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

WHAT IS THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE?

“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Skerrit said. “I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating … Indeed, mind boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.”

saint croix

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Courtesy of Alesia Georgiou)

When Maria hit Puerto Rico Wednesday, it was the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Irma when it hit the Florida Keys earlier this month.

Residents in Saint Croix told Fox News that the storm left them without power and turned roads into mudslides. Barges were also destroyed in the storm, residents said, causing concern not only for Saint Croix, but for nearby Saint Thomas and Saint John which had been receiving aid from the larger of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Fox News' Kaitlyn Schallhorn and Zoe Szathmary and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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