Maria becomes major hurricane, powers through Caribbean
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Hurricane Maria picked up strength and roared towards the Leeward Islands on Monday on a track that could whip several eastern Caribbean islands with their second major storm this month.
Maria grew into a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (195 km per hour). It was located about 60 miles (95 km) east of Martinique, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).
It was headed west-northwest at about 10 mph (17 kph) on a track that would put it over the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico by Wednesday.
Maria was expected to be the second major hurricane this year to hit the Leeward Islands, which were hammered by Hurricane Irma earlier this month, the center said.