CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The government of the Bahamas has changed the Hurricane Warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas to a Tropical Storm Warning.

At 500 PM EDT (2100 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Maria was located near latitude 23.3 North, longitude 71.4 West.  Maria is moving toward the north-northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Saturday.  A turn toward the north is forecast by Saturday night.

Maximum sustained winds are near 125 mph (205 km/h) with higher gusts.  Maria is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  A gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km).

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for... * Turks and Caicos Islands * Southeastern Bahamas * Central Bahamas