Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Dominica as a Category 5 storm

Cheryl Sanders
September 19, 2017

Tropical Storm Maria became a Category 1 hurricane Sunday afternoon, expected to hit the Leeward Islands Monday and become a major hurricane by the time it nears Puerto Rico. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 km).

The damage from Hurricane Irma on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten in early September.

Some areas are predicted to receive more than 50cm of rainfall, especially in the central and southern Leeward Islands. The storm claimed at least three lives in Puerto Rico, at least four in the British Virgin Islands, and at least three in the U.S.

In addition, security measures have been activated for Puerto Rico and its islands Vieques and Culebra, predicting possible torrential rains with floods up to 30 centimeters deep as Maria passes through the Leeward Islands, the United States and the British Virgin Islands, approximately overnight of Wednesday.

See the latest NHC advisory for a complete list of hurricane watches and warnings in effect for Maria.

Puerto Rico is next on Maria's projected path, possibly making a direct hit on the island Wednesday or Thursday.

Maria continued to rapidly intensify Monday and managed to go from a category one to a category five hurricane in less than 24 hours as maximum sustained winds increased to 160 mph. As with other hurricanes this season, cancellations and changes are expected.

Hurricane watches - meaning hurricane conditions are possible within the next two days - are in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, St. Barts, Anguilla, and parts of the Dominican Republic.

Maria's sustained winds of least 130 miles per hour make it a Category 4 storm as of 5 p.m. ET, and it's still rapidly intensifying. "Otherwise you're going to die", said Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico's public safety commissioner. The extremely unsafe storm was moving west-northwest at 9 miles per hour. But rip currents can be expected along the coast next week.

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