Hurricane Maria Makes First Landfall As A Category 5 Storm

by Garry Watts September 20, 2017, 0:27
Hurricane Maria Makes First Landfall As A Category 5 Storm

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma began carving a path of destruction across the Caribbean, several islands in the region are bracing for Maria to take its toll in the next two days as it gains strength.

The island's Prime Minister told of "widespread devastation" and high winds sweeping away "the roofs of nearly every person I have spoken to".

The hurricane caused "widespread devastation" on the island, destroying buildings and ripping trees from the ground.

Maria poses a significant and potentially catastrophic threat to Puerto Rico over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Hurricane Maria remains "extremely dangerous" after it battered the Caribbean island of Dominica, having regained its Category 5 status, the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has said.

Maria is expected to push to the west-northwest and skirt just north of Hispaniola and approach the Turks and Caicos Islands by Friday.

Forecasts suggest Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are in the direct path of Maria, which could hit sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The minimum central pressure estimated from reconnaissance data is 924 mb (27.29 inches). But the strong winds associated with the hurricane are well off the coast.

The French territory of Guadeloupe - the bridgehead for aid for Irma-hit French territories - found itself in the eye of the storm on Tuesday. The worst part of the storm is likely to impact Barbuda and Antigua, and by Tuesday, Maria is expected to pass over St. Croix.

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"Our islands are extremely vulnerable right now", the territory's premier Orlando Smith said in a statement, warning that the storm could turn debris left by Irma into risky projectiles.

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Hurricane Maria is predicted to deluge the Caribbean with up to 15ins (38cm) of rain, with "isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)" expected in the British Virgin Islands.

Three team members stayed behind in Puerto Rico and will join up with the team, putting the combined force at a total of 80 people.

Around 450 shelters will be opened starting on Monday afternoon in order to brace for the possibility of the "vulnerable" electrical system, flash flooding, and mudslides, according to officials.

SURF: Swells generated by Maria are affecting the Lesser Antilles. A high risk for rip currents continues.

Maria is the seventh hurricane in the Atlantic this season.

Those countries are still reeling from Hurricane Irma.

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