Published: Tue, September 19, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Maria May Be Puerto Rico's Worst Storm in 90 Years

Just one Category 5 hurricane has hit Puerto Rico once in recorded history; there is the outside chance Maria could become the second. The storm is heading west-northwest at around 10 miles per hour.

"Maria is likely to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid week as a risky major hurricane", the NHC said.

On Tuesday, Maria should mostly pass through a patch of the Caribbean free of islands before potentially closing in on St. Croix, now under a hurricane warning, late in the day or at night. This means the possibility of gale-force winds (39 mph) arriving from Maria, now a hurricane, within 48 hours.

The NHS warned of a unsafe storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves, raising water levels to six to nine feet in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

"Our call is for people to evacuate areas that are prone to floods and landslides, in addition to vulnerable structures", Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said.

Caribbean islands that were badly hit by Hurricane Irma are in the path of a new hurricane strengthening in the west Atlantic. Some models suggest it could find an escape route out to sea, remaining offshore from the U.S. East Coast, but it is way too early to sound the all-clear. A tropical storm warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia.

With Jose moving north at 9 miles per hour, a tropical storm watch is in effect for areas from Fenwick Island to Sandy Hook; Delaware Bay South; East Rockaway Inlet to Plymouth; Block Island; Martha's Vineyard; and Nantucket. Maria could dump 6 to 12 inches of rain across the Leeward Islands - including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands - through Wednesday night.

On Monday morning, Puerto Rico's emergency officials were meeting to plan their response to Maria.

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).

Jose was centered about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph). The combination of a unsafe 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 worst conditions are likely from eastern Long Island to eastern MA on Wednesday when these areas may get battered by the combination of heavy rain, damaging wind gusts to hurricane-force, and coastal flooding. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

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