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Metrolinx exploring hydrogen-powered GO trains

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

The province and Metrolinx are looking into a study that could zap the use of conventional overhead wires.

Ontario is conducting a feasibility study on the use of hydrogen fuel cells as part of the Metrolinx Regional Express Rail program. It’s also calling for companies to put forward concept designs.

The introduction of hydrogen-powered trains could see the transit agency deliver faster and more frequent electrified rail service on the GO rail network and UP Express.

“We want to see who’s interested at this point, what they can provide, bring those industry leaders to see what are our options to electrify our services,” said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

“Make no mistake. Electrification is underway.”

Their goal is to put the brakes on diesel locomotives, but it’s too soon to say whether the technology is viable.

“So far, there’s only one hydrogen-powered prototype train in Germany — there’s not many other examples,” said transportation expert Murtaza Haider.

“It’s not a high-speed train. I think the maximum speed is 85 miles per hour and it’s also for a shorter distance, not for long-haul.”

Nonetheless, he thinks the study is a move in the right direction. especially considering the trains will be a lot quieter.

“These are long-term investments made for 30 to 50 years down the road,” he said. “Picking the right technology that is adaptive is key, so we can upgrade it as time and innovation takes place.”

Metrolinx said it’s a huge undertaking and will be costly. It’s part of a $21-billion modernization project.

The Hydrogen Feasibility Study is expected to be complete by the end of 2017 and a decision on how to electrify the transit system will be taken shortly after.

The Metrolinx Regional Express Rail program will bring two-way, all day service to commuters across the GTHA, with an anticipated 6,000 weekly trips by 2025.

Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 248

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 20th, 2017

Volunteers search a building that collapsed after an earthquake, in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. A magnitude 7.1 earthquake has rocked central Mexico, killing at least 55 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust and thousands fled into the streets in panic. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed to 248.

Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date.

One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets.

Volunteer rescue worker Dr. Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead.

“We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults – a woman and a man,” he said.

“We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help.”

A mix of neighborhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school’s rubble. The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received Whatsapp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed.

Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn’t collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.

The federal Education Department reported late Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school’s wreckage, all but four of them children. It was not clear whether those deaths were included in the overall death toll of 248 reported by the federal civil defense agency. Pena Nieto had earlier reported 22 bodies found and said 30 children and eight adults were reported missing.

In a video message released late Tuesday, Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 per cent of Mexico City and 60 percent of nearby Morelos state were without power. But, he said, “the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people.”

People across central Mexico already had rallied to help their neighbors as dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets.

Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighborhood during a three-hour period.

“When we saw this, we came to help,” he said, gesturing at the destruction. “This is ugly, very ugly.”

Blocks away, Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth-floor apartment when the quake collapsed the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way out. She was terrified until her neighbors mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window.

Mancera said 50 to 60 people were rescued by citizens and emergency workers in the capital.

The national Civil Defense agency reported early Wednesday that the confirmed death toll stood at 248, more than half of them in the capital.

The official Twitter feed of agency head Luis Felipe Puente said 117 dead had been counted in Mexico City and 72 in Morelos state, which is just south of the capital. It said 43 were known dead in Puebla state, where the quake was centered. Twelve deaths were listed in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, three in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca.

At the site of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City, rescuers worked atop a three-story pile of rubble, forming a human chain that passed pieces of rubble across four city blocks to a site where they were dumped.

Throughout the day, rescuers pulled dust-covered people, some barely conscious, some seriously injured, from about three dozen collapsed buildings. At one site, shopping carts commandeered from a nearby supermarket were used to carry water to the rescue site and take rubble away.

As night began to fall, huge flood lights lit up the recovery sites, but workers and volunteers begged for headlamps.

Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water.

“I think it’s human nature that drives everyone to come and help others,” Cristina Lopez said.

“We are young. We didn’t live through′85. But we know that it’s important to come out into the streets to help,” said her sister Victoria.

Ricardo Ibarra, 48, did live through the 1985 quake and said there hadn’t been anything like it since.

Wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag strapped to it, he said he and his friends just wanted to help.

“People are very sensitive because today was the 32nd anniversary of a tragedy,” he said.

Buildings also collapsed in Morelos state, including the town hall and local church in Jojutla near the quake’s epicenter. A dozen people died in Jojutla.

The town’s Instituto Morelos secondary school partly collapsed, but school director Adelina Anzures said the earthquake drill held in the morning came in handy.

“I told them that it was not a game, that we should be prepared,” Anzures said of the drill. When the quake came, she said, children and teachers rapidly filed out and nobody was hurt.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 p.m.local time and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 123 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centered hundreds of miles away.

The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept. 7 off Mexico’s southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the two quakes were 400 miles (650 kilometers) apart and said most aftershocks are within 100 kilometers.

Black Lives Matter protest woman’s deportation at Yonge and Bloor

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

Beverley Braham, who is married to a Canadian and is facing deportation to Jamaica, attends a rally protesting her deportation on Sept. 19, 2017. CITYNEWS

Beverley Braham is facing deportation to Jamaica and her supporters, including the Black Lives Matter Movement, are holding a demonstration to protest her detention and her leaving.

The demonstration began at Yonge and Bloor streets around 8 a.m. on Tuesday.

Braham is married to a Canadian citizen. She and her two-month-old son, who was born in Canada, could be sent to Jamaica on Sept. 21.

“Justin [my two-month-old son] was in [immigration] detention with us,” Braham told CityNews on Tuesday.

Her son was born in May. On Sept. 6, she took her son and husband with her when she met with an official from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

That’s when, Braham says, a CBSA official made her husband leave the room, called Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and took away her baby food.

“I was unable to feed my child,” Braham says.

Then, they were kept in detention for nearly three full days, until Sept. 8.

“She should be .. building her family here and and enjoying her new child,” Leroi Newbold, co-founder of BLM Toronto said in a statement.

“Instead, she has been in the fight for her life, and that her baby, and has faced inhumane detention with her tiny infant. This is not just. We are here to say enough is enough. Let Beverly stay.”

Braham is involved in the sponsorship process, and advocates are asking that she be allowed to stay until her sponsorship is complete.

iPhone 8: A taste of iPhone X with less sticker shock

Winston Sih | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

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When Apple announced three new smartphones at its new Cupertino, Calif. headquarters, Apple Park, I instantly got dozens of texts with the same question: Winston, which one is right for me?

The answer is—these devices are targeted at different people. iPhone 8 packs a lot of punch that makes it a significant upgrade from its iPhone 7 sibling, but it also jams in a lot of familiar that will leave enthusiasts waiting to compare with the 10th-anniversary iPhone X when it goes for sale in November.

Design

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At first glance, users will notice a vary familiar design. Yes, the headphone jack is still gone, but the tech giant’s classic Home Button remains, with TouchID functionality for fingerprint access and Apple Pay. Turn the phone around and you’ll find a new, all-glass back—admittedly making me very nervous at first—but makes way the much-welcomed wireless charging on iPhone.

Apple says iPhone 8 features the most durable glass in a smartphone—a 50 per cent deeper strengthening later—and aerospace-grade 7000 Series aluminum on the exterior for reinforcement. Despite my initial worries, our review unit has proven to be that, quite durable, though I’d still recommend using a case in the day-to-day. They remain water-resistant—not waterproof. So don’t go diving with iPhone 8.

The new devices are still available in two sizes—iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus—with 4.7- and 5.5-inch Retina HD screens, respectively, in three finishes—grey, silver, and gold.

Bionic performance

Replacing its A10 chip predecessor, Apple introduces A11 Bionic to its latest roster of smartphones—‘the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone.’  And that’s a big claim to make. Pushing the six-core CPU and three-core GPU to max simultaneously was difficult in my day-to-day use cases, making it easy for developers to integrate apps to take advantage of augmented reality.

The power in the new devices also makes way for TrueTone—the same technology in the latest iPad—that adaptively adjusts the hue of your screen to your environment realtime, minimizing eye strain. Users will notice louder audio through new stereo speakers, though minimal improvement from iPhone 7.

Similar with new sensors, ‘Portrait Lighting’

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I struggled when thinking about how a smartphone camera could see improvements. It basically does everything I need it to do today—Instagram, Facebook Live, the odd Boomerang, make funny faces on Snapchat. Oh, right, and the awe-worthy, photographer-of-the-year Portrait Mode pics that made anyone the star of a party.

The camera remains at 12 megapixels for both devices, but new sensors make room for better video stabilization, improved colour filter, calibrated cameras alongside the gyroscope for those augmented reality apps.

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On iPhone 8 Plus, a new feature called ‘Portrait Lighting’ is introduced, taking advantage of the dual cameras. You get the bokeh depth-of-field effect while the software gives users the options to digitally manipulate lighting to enhance facial contour, mimic studio conditions, and crop out the background. When it works well, it works well, but on testing, conditions need to be just right or it becomes a little finicky. Definitely a beta feature until it is refined.

Say goodbye to cord city

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Apple has introduced new charging technology in all three devices that follows the same Qi standard in many third-party accessories today. Paired with iPhone’s glass back, this allows users can ditch the Lightning cable and recharge by simply placing their device on a Qi-compatible mat, including Apple’s AirPower mat, not out until later this year.

But surprise, their charging mat will only work with the new iPhones, Apple Watch Series 3, and a new AirPods case. Older devices will not work.

Accessory makers like Mophie are making wireless mats, and expect many more restaurants and cafes to take advantage of wireless charging as more smartphone manufacturers are taking the lead on integrating it into their phones.

iOS 11

Through the latest operating system, iOS 11, brings many refinements to the user experience to new and existing devices, including Apple Pay in iMessages, Do Not Disturb mode when driving, a new Siri voice assistant, and central file storage. A large improvement for existing iPhone owners who don’t want to make the upgrade.

Pricing

iPhone 8 will be available in 64GB and 256GB capacities for $929 and $1,139 off-contract, respectively. iPhone 8 Plus will be available in the same capacities for $1,059 and $1,269 off-contract.

So, I make the upgrade?

iPhone 8 brings a lot of improvements to Apple’s flagship smartphone—the A11 Bionic processor, refinements in the 12-megapixel camera sensor, wireless charging, as well as iOS 11. But it also brings a lot of similar through its familiar design. If you have an iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, you’ll see minor improvements, but unless you’re going to be taking advantage of augmented reality or eager for wireless charging, the free upgrade to iOS 11 will suffice.

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is a good upgrade if you are an older-model iPhone user due for an upgrade. You’re looking to take better family photos, want to stay productive on a larger screen, and can’t let go of that Home Button—not yet anyway. You get a lot of the power from iPhone X with a little less of the sticker shock.

As for those still curious about iPhone X, the all-new device breaks tradition and will be the shiny new toy many are waiting out for—marketed as Apple’s flagship premium offering. It rings in at a whopping $1,300 to start, and features an edge-to-edge OLED display, no home button, and FaceID facial recognition technology, to be available Nov. 3 in Canada.  No doubt many will be waiting to compare the devices side-by-side before making their decision.

Toronto Blue Jays invite girl, 7, with 3D-printed hand to pitch

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

Hailey Dawson, a 5-year-old from Las Vegas, throws the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Hailey was born with Poland Syndrome. Engineering students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas created the "Flexy Hand 2" that she wore to throw the ball. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)
 Hailey Dawson is coming to Toronto.

The seven-year-old girl, who has a 3D-printed right hand, wants to throw a pitch at every Major League Baseball stadium.

On Monday, the Toronto Blue Jays said they couldn’t wait to welcome her to the Rogers Centre.

According to her Twitter feed, Dawson has already pitched at Camden Yards and Nationals Park, and is on her way to visit the other 28 of the 30 MLB stadiums.

Hailey Dawson, a 5-year-old from Las Vegas, throws the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Hailey was born with Poland Syndrome. Engineering students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas created the "Flexy Hand 2" that she wore to throw the ball. (Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images)

The Jays were the last team to reach out. She will also be throwing out the first pitch before Game 4 of the World Series. A date for the Toronto game has not yet been set.

The University of Nevada in Las Vegas, where Dawson is from, created her hand. Dawson was born with Poland Syndrome, and was born without a right pectoral muscle, which affected the growth of her right hand, the university said.

The UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering for created an economical Robohand for the girl. Click here to watch the slideshow of how the hand was made.

Construction to close commuter parking spots at some TTC stations

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

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Soon it may be more difficult for west-enders who commute from Kipling and Islington stations to find a place to park their cars and get on the Better Way. Nearly 400 spots, at two Islington lots and one Kipling spot — will be shut down for six weeks starting this weekend.

The lots are closing because Hydro One is upgrading power delivery to the western part of the city, including for the upcoming Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

“They need to get into our lots at Kipling and Islington. That will result in about a quarter of the spaces being lost,” says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “It’s a short-term inconvenience but it’s important work.”

Hydro One is upgrading a transformer station and 10 km of power lines, some of which run above the lots. To do the work safely, they’re closing the affected areas to drivers. This has regular commuters worried.

“I don’t know where people are going to park, they don’t give them much choice anymore,” says commuter John Settino.

Settino says he may end up taking the bus to Islington Station from the Islington and Finch area.

Other commuters are already feeling the pressure, as the lots are often at, or close to, capacity.

“We intentionally came here early this morning to find a spot, so that’s going to be rough,” says commuter Olivia Gallagher, who parks at Islington every day. “The other day, because I missed a parking spot here, I had to pay $18.”

Soon it may be more difficult for west-enders who commute from Kipling and Islington stations to find a place to park their cars and get on the Better Way. Nearly 400 spots, at two Islington lots and one Kipling spot — will be shut down for six weeks starting this weekend.

The lots are closing because Hydro One is upgrading power delivery to the western part of the city, including for the upcoming Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

“They need to get into our lots at Kipling and Islington. That will result in about a quarter of the spaces being lost,” says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. “It’s a short-term inconvenience but it’s important work.”

Hydro One is upgrading a transformer station and 10 km of power lines, some of which run above the lots. To do the work safely, they’re closing the affected areas to drivers. This has regular commuters worried.

“I don’t know where people are going to park, they don’t give them much choice anymore,” says commuter John Settino.

Settino says he may end up taking the bus to Islington Station from the Islington and Finch area.

Other commuters are already feeling the pressure, as the lots are often at, or close to, capacity.

“We intentionally came here early this morning to find a spot, so that’s going to be rough,” says commuter Olivia Gallagher, who parks at Islington every day. “The other day, because I missed a parking spot here, I had to pay $18.”

The TTC’s Green says the transit agency worked with Hydro One to limit the inconvenience to commuters.

“We did some work with Hydro One to reduce not only the size of the length of closures, but the length of time. Originally, a couple of these lots were going to close in their entirety for an eight-week period of time,” says Green. “Hydro One was very cooperative and worked with us to get that down to a six-week period and about a quarter of the spaces in those lots. So, it’s less than 400 spaces, from over 1,600 spaces, will be closed during this work.”

In a statement last month, Hydro One said its crews would be working “from dawn until dusk” to get the work done.

“A typical project of this nature could take several months; however, Hydro One will be using every available crew to complete the project as safely and quickly as possible within four to six weeks,” said Natalie Poole-Moffatt, vice president of customer and corporate affairs at Hydro One, in a statement.

While the work is being done, the TTC is advising commuters to plan ahead and arrive early to secure a spot or to make alternate arrangements.

Victim laughed at shooter before being shot inside Michael’s on Simcoe

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

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A real estate agent shot at a crowded Toronto restaurant over the weekend laughed at his attacker right before bullets were fired, the establishment’s owner recounted Monday.

“Ha ha, very funny,” Simon Giannini said moments before a gunman started shooting at him, restaurant owner Michael Dabic told reporters.

“He thought it was some joke,” Dabic said.

Giannini was at Michael’s on Simcoe, a restaurant in downtown Toronto, on Saturday night with a friend when a man in a hoodie and baseball cap walked inside and briefly looked around, Dabic said.

Police said Giannini, 54, was targeted.

About 140 patrons packed the restaurant at the time, Dabic said, the entire area busy with the Toronto International Film Festival in swing nearby.

Dabic said one of his managers immediately approached the suspect when he entered the restaurant shortly before 9 p.m. because his clothing didn’t fit the upscale restaurant’s dress code.

“He said he was just looking for a friend,” Dabic said.

The suspect then strode directly to Giannini, who was sitting with his back to the approaching man, Dabic said.

Dabic’s daughter, who works at the restaurant, was standing several metres from the table when she heard Giannini’s comments before bullets flew, he said. The man in the hoodie shot twice, then stepped back and shot twice more, he said.

“It lasted 20 seconds,” Dabic said.

Giannini was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The restaurant’s employees are struggling, said Dabic, who wasn’t there at the time but showed up within 30 minutes to help his staff deal with the overwhelming situation.

“Some people will need therapy,” he said. “My daughter will need therapy – there are a few other individuals who will need help – it’s a shocking situation.”

Dabic said they have surveillance video of the entire incident and one of his employees was able to record the licence plate of the car the alleged shooter got into before fleeing.

He described a surreal scene shortly after the shooting when speaking with a fire chief from British Columbia who had been sitting at a table near Giannini.

“He was very calm and he held the victim and he said, ‘I felt his last breath,”’ Dabic said.

Meanwhile, Giannini’s friend will return when the restaurant reopens, which might be sometime later this week, Dabic said.

“He wants to send a message to people like this that he’s not afraid and the minute we open he’s coming back to sit in the very same spot that he sat,” Dabic said.

The incident marked the second time the restaurant has seen a shooting in recent years.

Two years ago two masked men entered the same establishment and shot a man and a woman. Both survived, but suffered serious injuries.

Hurricane Maria lashes Dominica, now menaces other islands

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Sep 19th, 2017

This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm with 160 mph (260 kph) winds. (NASA via AP)

Hurricane Maria pounded the small island of Dominica with catastrophic winds overnight, starting a charge into the eastern Caribbean that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma and holds the possibility of a direct hit on Puerto Rico.

Fierce winds and rain lashed mountainous Dominica for hours as Maria caused flooding and tore roofs from homes as an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm. A police official on the island, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said overnight that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was too dangerous for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside.

“Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview while hunkered down against the region’s second Category 5 hurricane this month.

Maria weakened slightly — and briefly — early Tuesday to a still major Category 4 storm after pounding the small Caribbean island nation. But the fluctuation in intensity proved to be short-lived as a hurricane hunter plane reported the hurricane had regained a fearsome Category 5 status within hours of passing over Dominica.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit earlier captured the fury of Maria as it made landfall. “The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit wrote at the start of a series of increasingly harrowing posts on Facebook.

A few minutes later, he messaged he could hear the sound of galvanized steel roofs tearing off houses on the small rugged island.

He then wrote that he thought his home had been damaged. And three words: “Rough! Rough! Rough!”

A half hour later, he said: “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.” Seven minutes later he posted that he had been rescued.

Officials in Guadeloupe said the French island near Dominica probably would experience heavy flooding and warned that many communities could be submerged. In nearby Martinique, authorities ordered people to remain indoors and said they should be prepared for power cuts and disruption in the water supply.

Authorities in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm’s expected arrival there on Wednesday.

“You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you’re going to die,” said Hector Pesquera, the island’s public safety commissioner. “I don’t know how to make this any clearer.”

Maria had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph) late Monday as it slammed into Dominica, its eye passing over the island before conditions began easing. Early Tuesday, a hurricane hunter plane found top winds had slightly weakened though Maria remained a still extremely dangerous Category 4 major storm.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria’s top sustained winds were clocked at 155 mph (250 kph) at 2 a.m. and that the eye of Maria was about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west-northwest of Dominica. The storm was moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).

Before the latest fluctuation in intensity, forecasters had warned Maria would likely intensify over the next 24 hours or longer, noting its eye had shrunk to a compact 10 miles across and warning: “Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye.”

That generally means an extremely strong hurricane will get even mightier, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami. He said it just like when a spinning ice skater brings in their arms and rotates faster.

“You just don’t see those in weaker hurricanes,” he said.

The storm’s hurricane-force winds extended out about 35 miles (45 kilometers) and tropical storm-force winds out as far as 125 miles (205 kilometers).

Hurricane warnings were posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. A tropical storm warning was issued for Martinique, Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and Anguilla.

Forecasters said storm surge could raise water levels by 6 to 9 feet (1.8 to 2.7 meters) near the storm’s center. The storm was predicted to bring 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.

The current forecast track would carry it about 22 miles (35 kilometers) south of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, territorial Gov. Kenneth Mapp said.

“We are going to have a very, very long night,” Mapp said as he urged people in the territory to finish any preparations.

St. Thomas and St. John are still stunned from a direct hit by Hurricane Irma, which did extensive damage and caused four deaths on the two islands.

Barry University said it chartered a private plane to carry students and staff from its St. Croix facility to Florida in preparation for Maria. It said 72 people connected to the Barry’s Physician Assistant Program and a few pets were on Monday’s evacuation flight.

In neighboring Puerto Rico, nearly 70,000 people were still without power following their earlier brush with Irma and nearly 200 remained in shelters as Maria approached.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Puerto Rico had 500 shelters capable of taking in up to 133,000 people in a worst-case scenario. He also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was ready to bring drinking water and help restore power immediately after the storm, which could hit as a Category 5 hurricane.

“That is catastrophic in every way,” said Roberto Garcia with the National Weather Service in San Juan. “People have to act, and they have to act now. They can no longer wait for a miracle.”

To the north, Hurricane Jose stirred up dangerous surf and rip currents along the U.S. East Coast, though forecasters said the storm was unlikely to make landfall. Big waves caused by the storm swept five people off a coastal jetty in Rhode Island and they were hospitalized after being rescued.

A tropical storm warning was posted for coastal areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and tropical storm watches were up for parts of New York’s Long Island and Connecticut. Jose’s center was about 395 miles (635 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, early Tuesday and moving north at 8 mph (13 kph). The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Associated Press writers Ben Fox in Miami, Seth Borenstein in Washington and Carlisle Jno Baptiste in Roseau Dominica contributed to this report.

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