As islands across the Caribbean struggle to recover after the destruction left by category five Hurricane Irma, they now have to get ready for another storm: Hurricane Maria.

The US’s National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has issued warnings across the Caribbean. It says it expects Maria to become a major hurricane before it reaches the Leeward Islands, which it is thought to do later today.

The NHC said:

On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late Monday and Monday night and then over the extreme north-eastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, the islands of St Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, and Martinique.

A hurricane watch is in effect for other islands including the British Virgin Islands, which were also affected by Hurricane Irma, which means that hurricane conditions may occur within this area.

Category one hurricane

Maria should cause a little less destruction than its predecessor Irma, as it is thought it will be a category one hurricane.

According to the NHC’s categorisation, this should cause very dangerous winds that will produce some damage.

Irma, on the other hand, was a category five hurricane, and was the biggest storm to ever develop in the Atlantic Ocean.

A category five hurricane means catastrophic damage will occur and the NHC warns that this leads to areas being uninhabitable for weeks or months.

The effect of Irma 

The UK has sent over 60 tonnes of aid to the Caribbean to support the victims of Hurricane Irma. Another 60 tonnes is on its way via HMS Ocean.

A recovery operation is currently underway to restore electricity to the main power station on the British Virgin Islands.

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However, the arrival of Hurricane Maria could hamper this effort for now.

Read more: As Boris Johnson packs his bags, how have Britain’s politicians responded to Hurricane Irma?

As well, medical health experts from UK-Med and Public Health England are on the ground in Antigua. They have been stationed to measure the current state of public health and any potential threat of disease breaking out.

The international development secretary, Priti Patel, said:

Aid continues to arrive on the affected islands on a daily basis, and we’ll continue to do all that is needed to get people back on their feet. We’re also looking at long-term recovery on the islands. We want to get families back into houses, and schools and hospitals working again as soon as possible.