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Dangerous Category 5 Maria Marches Through the Leewards

19 Sep 2017, 10:55 am

Hurricane Maria intensified rapidly on Monday, reaching category 5 status as winds increased by 70 mph over only 12 hours.

At the 5 p.m. EDT update, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Maria had maximum sustained winds of up to 165 miles per hour with gusts near 200 mph.

The NHC says it crossed the island of Dominica with sustained 160 mph winds and gusts to near 200 mph. Devastation is widespread, according to the Prime Minster of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit.

Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear…

Roosevelt Skerrit 发布于 2017年9月18日

The National Hurricane Center says the core of the hurricane is expected to move near or over
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands later tonight into Wednesday. They advise everyone in these areas to follow advice from local officials to avoid destructive winds and life-threatening flooding from storm surge and rainfall.

As of Tuesday morning, most of the northern Leeward Islands into the Greater Antilles are under tropical alerts. Maria is located about 115 miles west of Guadeloupe and 150 miles southeast of St. Croix, USVI. The storm briefly weakened to a category 4 storm this morning, but now is once again a category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds and gusts to near 195 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend out to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds push outward up to 140 miles. The storm is moving to the west-northwest at 10 mph.

The eye of Maria has been wobbling quite a bit, but a smoother long-term motion to the northwest is expected throughout today.  A weak ridge situated over the western Atlantic is expected to steer Maria west-northwestward through 48 hours, near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. After that time, the western portion of the ridge is forecast to weaken, partially due to the influence of the large circulation of Hurricane Jose off the U.S. east coast. This pattern should cause Maria to turn northwestward and then north-northwestward by this weekend.

Currently Maria should remain in a generally favorable environment to maintain its dangerous major hurricane status over the next few days, After crossing Puerto Rico, the upper-level winds are expected to become less favorable, and  a slow weakening  is expected.

Hurricane conditions will continue to spread across the Leeward Islands into the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday. Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains and on high-rise buildings could be much stronger than the near-surface winds.

A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. 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.

Maria is expected to produce rain accumulations of more than a foot in many of the Leeward Islands, and totals may reach 2 feet in parts of Puerto Rico. Rainfall on all of these islands will cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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