Hurricane Maria was strengthening fast as it barreled towards Martinique and Puerto Rico on Monday while the Irma-battered Caribbean islands braced for the arrival of yet another monster storm. As of 11 a.m., Maria had grown into a “rapidly intensifying” Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was about 60 miles east of Martinique, a French island that is home to some 400,000

people, the National Hurricane Center said. Maria could grow into a “major hurricane” overnight and begin threatening Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday, the hurricane center said.Puerto Rico has not been hit by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane since 1928, said NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins. READ MORE