SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — The islands of the eastern Caribbean prepared Sunday to face another potential disaster, with forecasters saying newly formed and likely to strengthen Hurricane Maria was headed for a hit on the Leeward Islands by Monday night.

Hurricane or tropical storm warnings were posted for many of the islands already coping with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, including St. Barts and Antigua and Barbuda.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to gain power and could be near major hurricane strength while crossing through the Leeward Islands late Monday on a path aiming toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph late Sunday afternoon. It was centered about 275 miles east-southeast of Dominica and heading west-northwest at 15 mph.

The hurricane center said hurricane conditions should begin to affect parts of the Leeward Islands by Monday night.

It could make a direct hit on Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, long-lived Hurricane Jose was moving northward off the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard, kicking up dangerous surf and rip currents. It wasn’t expected to make landfall but tropical storm watches were posted for all of the coast from Delaware to Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.

Jose was centered about 335 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma’s threat to Mexico’s Los Cabos area appeared to be easing. Forecasters said the storm’s center was likely to remain offshore.