Hurricane Maria Continues Strengthening

Cheryl Sanders
September 19, 2017

"We're in hurricane alley, so we've had other storms, but nothing like this", Jones said, referring to Irma, which was one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded and which killed more than 80 people on Caribbean islands and the United States mainland.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (200 kph) Monday afternoon.

At its current strength, Maria would be the first Category 4 storm to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Hurricane Maria became an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm Monday as it barreled toward a potentially devastating collision with islands in the eastern Caribbean, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Officials from French-controlled Martinique to the US Virgin Islands warned residents to prepare for the storm, now ranked by US forecasters as a major hurricane, at category three on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

In light of the powerful storm's eventual arrival - the governor, citing the National Weather Service, expects the Maria to start affecting the territory tomorrow afternoon, with conditions deteriorating from there.

The storm's hurricane-force winds extended out about 25 miles (35 kilometers) from the eye, and tropical storm-force winds out as far as 125 miles (205 kilometers).

The tiny island of Barbuda was decimated by Hurricane Irma on September 5-6 when it made its first landfall in the Caribbean as a top-intensity Category Five storm. "All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds". All schools and non-essential public services were closed. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are both under Hurricane Warnings already.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma, the Caribbean is facing another major storm with Hurricane Maria.

On Wednesday, Maria was expected to be near or over Puerto Rico, which was spared the full brunt of Irma, although much of the island had its power knocked out.

The governor said a federal emergency declaration was requested. The latter island was evacuated after being devastated by Hurricane Irma. Rossello said officials had prepared about 450 shelters with a capacity for almost 68,000 people - or even 125,000 in an emergency. Tropical storm watches were posted for parts of New York's Long Island and CT.

On Monday morning, Hurricane Jose was about 270 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph.

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma's threat to Mexico's Los Cabos resort area at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula eased as forecasters said it was moving away from shore and expected to weaken.

"These swells are likely to cause unsafe surf and rip current conditions for the next several days in these areas". Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts and significant strengthening is forecast during the next forty-eight hours.

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