Maria is now a hurricane, moving northwest and gaining strength

Maria is now a hurricane, posing a growing threat to Caribbean islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria is projected to become a major hurricane as it moves across the Leeward islands toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

A hurricane watch has been posted for the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthlemy, and Anguilla.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) with higher wind gusts. Sunday afternoon. It was centered about 410 miles (655 kilometers) east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles and was headed west-northwest  at 15 mph (24 kph).