"The eye and the intense inner core is expected to pass near Dominica in the next few hours," the Miami-based NHC said in its 2100 GMT bulletin.
Maria, coming two weeks after Hurricane Irma cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean, was 45 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Dominica, an island of about 72,000 people whose official language is English and where many also speak Creole French.
Located 35 miles northeast of the French island of Martinique, Maria was packing winds of 130 miles per hour and was now "an extremely dangerous Category Four hurricane," the NHC said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.