Hurricane Maria Has Begun Its Potentially Catastrophic Siege on Puerto Rico

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The full title is “Hurricane Maria Has Begun Its Potentially Catastrophic Siege on Puerto Rico after Hammering the Virgin Islands” and the word used to describe Hurricane Maria’s action on the islands is “pummeling.” Friends on Facebook have been sending quite frightening images, videos, and stories about this initial landfall, and this is only the beginning. The reports says that Maria will be the hurricane with the strongest Puerto Rico landfall since September 1932. In the meantime, we still haven’t heard from friends on other islands like Dominica, the Virgin Islands (and St. Martin, since Hurricane Irma!) Here are the latest conditions.

The eyewall of Maria is now carving through eastern Puerto Rico, including the island of Vieques. In advance of the eyewall, the National Weather Service issued “extreme wind warnings” for several eastern Puerto Rico municipalities.

Here are a sampling of peak wind gusts seen so far in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as of early Wednesday morning:

Western St. Croix, Virgin Islands: 137 mph (sustained winds of 106 mph)

Yabucoa (WeatherFlow station): 113 mph

Gurabo: 103 mph

Fajardo: 100 mph

San Juan: 91 mph

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: 86 mph

Flash flood warnings have also been issued in much of eastern Puerto Rico. At least a half dozen river gauges reported levels above flood stage already, with more heavy rain moving in.

The National Weather Service office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, warned of “catastrophic damage” from Maria’s winds, as well as “life-threatening rainfall flooding having possible devastating impacts” in a hurricane local statement issued Wednesday morning.

Maria will be the strongest Puerto Rico landfall since a Category 4 September 1932 hurricane.

Prior to both Irma and Maria, only four other Category 4 hurricanes had tracked within 75 miles of central Puerto Rico in historical records dating to the late 19th century. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was the last to do so prior to 2017, though it had weakened to a Category 3 hurricane as it clipped the northeast tip of Puerto Rico, according to the NOAA best tracks database. [. . .]

For more, see https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/hurricane-maria-category-5-leeward-islands-virgin-islands-puerto-rico

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