Hurricane Maria hammers Puerto Rico as most powerful storm to hit island since 1928

Hurricane Maria smashed into Puerto Rico Wednesday as a Category 4 storm that is the worst to hit the island since a 1928 hurricane that killed 300 people.

Puerto Ricans had been warned to evacuate or risk their lives, as Maria hit with enormous force, bringing huge waves, torrential rain and harsh winds that knocked out power across the island. Flash flood warnings were in effect, after river levels rose a stunning 20 feet, according to Weather.com. A storm surge of up to nine feet is also possible, said the weather service.

By afternoon, Maria had weakened to a Category 3 storm with its center just offshore the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico, moving northwest at 12 miles an hour with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles an hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, in its latest advisory.

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