Published: Wed, September 20, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Already a Category 2, Maria is expected to become a 'major hurricane'

Already a Category 2, Maria is expected to become a 'major hurricane'

Lee's maximum sustained winds have sputtered to 35 miles per hour, and are expected to further weaken in the coming days.

The hurricane spent a few hours as a Category 4 storm overnight, before being upgraded back into a Category 5 by 5:30 a.m. It could weaken slightly, but then regain strength as it approaches Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. That means even though the eye is not over the island yet, hurricane force winds are. That storm was located at 2 a.m. about 395 miles (635 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Antigua are experiencing those winds.

From there, the storm will head WNW at 9mph.

Hurricane Irma passed near Puerto Rico less than two weeks ago, leaving three people on the island dead and around one million without electricity. It will then approach the USA and British Virgin Islands, then Puerto Rico Tuesday night and Wednesday. Maria is a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The storm is moving WNW at 9mph.

So again, anyone who is telling you right now "here's exactly how this storm will affect the US/South Carolina" can't really do that yet. Further, the storm is expected to dump up to 20 inches of rain in some places while bringing a storm surge of up to 11 feet throughout the Caribbean.

Residents were boarding up their already-damaged houses and some prepared to evacuate to shelters. However, as of now, it doesn't appear that there will be a landfall on the USA mainland. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or unsafe. It has sustained winds of 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 46 miles per hour.

President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico for federal assistance to augment the territory's storm-response initiatives. "We're not out of the woods just yet, and we still do just have to watch this, because these computer models can change, just like they did with Irma".

St. Martin and St. Bart's, both pounded by Irma, were added Sunday to the list of islands now under hurricane watches.

Tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of the north-eastern US. That is the last thing they need, with so much damage already there.

"Maria's impact on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico may well make Maria the third Category 4 billion-dollar hurricane for the U.S. this year, in addition to Harvey and Irma", wrote storm expert Dr. Jeff Masters, on his hurricane blog at Weather Underground.

A second hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 90mph.

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