Hurricane Maria slowly approaching Turks and Caicos Islands

FORT MYERS, Fla. Hurricane Maria’s large eye moved Thursday morning off the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, the National Hurricane Center said.

Category 3 Hurricane Maria’s maximum sustained winds increased to 125 mph and is moving northwest at 8 mph as of the 11 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The system is about 90 miles north-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

The system won’t affect Southwest Florida, WINK meteorologist Matt Devitt said. It’s forecast to pass 500 miles to the east.

“This is not going to be an issue for us here in the Sunshine State,” Devitt said.

The story is different in the Caribbean, and especially Puerto Rico, where Maria on Wednesday became the third-strongest storm to make landfall in any part of the U.S., based on its central pressure.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Southeastern Bahamas and the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the National Hurricane Center said.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Central Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said.