‘EXTREMELY DANGEROUS’ CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE MARIA DEVASTATING CARIBBEAN – ALMOST ALL ROOFS OFF BLDGS. IN DOMINICAN

‘EXTREMELY DANGEROUS’ CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE MARIA HEADED TO CARIBBEAN — Hurricane Jose May Hit US Mainland…

Hurricane Maria has been upgraded to an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) as it tracks towards the already storm-battered Caribbean islands.

The eye of the hurricane is expected to pass near Dominica and the adjacent Leeward Islands during the next few hours and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night, according to the latest public advisory issued at 12:00am GMT.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra, Vieques, the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, Dominica and other islands in the area. Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as “an extremely dangerous major hurricane,” according to the NHC.


President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for the Virgin Islands, unlocking federal resources for the US territory and authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the area.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello announced that Trump also signed a declaration of emergency for the island US territory Monday.

At a news conference, Rossello said Hurricane Maria could become a Category 5 by the time it reaches Puerto Rico. He added that the island will feel tropical storm winds from Tuesday to Thursday, with the brunt of sustained Category 4 or 5 winds on Wednesday.

Rossello urged anyone in a flood-prone area to move to a shelter, explaining that some houses are “not built to withstand 130, 140, 150 mile per hour winds.”

“We want to alert the people of Puerto Rico that this is not an event like we’ve ever seen before,” Rossello said.“This is an event that will be damaging to the infrastructure, that will be catastrophic and our main focus, our only focus right now should be to make sure we save lives.”

The US territory of Puerto Rico is preparing for the hurricane to hit the island Wednesday morning. Starting midday Tuesday, conditions will begin to deteriorate and the island could get between 12 and 18 inches of rain, according to Rossello.

“Flood prone areas must be abandoned,” Public Security Secretary Héctor Pesquera said. “If not, you will die.”Officials have ordered four areas to be evacuated.

Hurricane Irma passed near Puerto Rico less than two weeks ago, leaving three people on the island dead and around one million without electricity.

But Irma largely spared the island, passing about 50 miles to the north and causing mainly wave damage.

Puerto Rico has not been hit by a Category 5 hurricane since 1928. The last Category 4 storm struck in 1932.

Both the US and British Virgin Islands, on the other hand, were devastated by Irma, which left “apocalyptic”damage in its wake, according to Stacey Plaskett, US Virgin Islands delegate to the House of Representatives. Irma killed four people on the US side of the islands, and another four on the British.

US Virgin Islands authorities pleaded with residents on Sunday to abandon already-damaged properties.

“It’s critical people make the tough decision to walk away from their property and take along what is most important — their loved ones,” Governor Kenneth Mapp said.

“Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night,” the National Hurricane Center warned.

Tropical storm warnings and watches were issued for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique, and Antigua and Barbuda, among others.

Most models, as of Monday morning, are forecasting Maria to stay away from Florida and the United States mainland.

More than 40 people were killed earlier this month, as Category 5 Hurricane Irma battered islands in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Maria is blasting into the northeast Caribbean on a somewhat similar path as Hurricane Irma, but its long-term fate will likely not be the same as Irma, partially thanks to an alleyway Hurricane Jose will help create in the western Atlantic.

By late this week, Maria should be located near or just north of the Dominican Republic. Instead of a continued west-northwest motion like we saw with Irma, Maria will likely begin to turn more to the north-northwest.

The forecast for a more north than west motion later this week is due to a weakness in the steering flow over the western Atlantic that a stalled Jose well off the East Coast has a hand in creating.

If Jose stalls as forecasted, it will temporarily block an area of high pressure over the eastern U.S. from moving farther east. If that high were able to build east faster, it would likely send Maria on a more west-northwest path toward the U.S.

Instead, Maria will gain latitude in between that eastern U.S. high-pressure system and another area of high pressure located to Maria’s east in the Atlantic Ocean.

This does not mean the East Coast of the U.S. is off the hook from a potential impact from Maria, however.

It’s too soon to determine how close Maria will move in relation to the Eastern Seaboard as it turns north, and therefore, all residents should continue to monitor Maria’s progress. Any potential impact from Maria in the mainland U.S. would not be until early next week if it occurs at all.

At the very least, Maria could be another high surf and rip current generator for the East Coast much like Jose has been.

Check back for updates in the days ahead as forecast guidance comes into better agreement on the overall long-term steering for Maria.

A Fujiwhara Dance, Too?

There’s another side to this Jose and Maria story where an interaction between the systems called the Fujiwhara effect could occur.

Named for a Japanese researcher who discovered this in experiments with water in the early 1920s, the Fujiwhara effect details how two tropical cyclones 800 to 900 miles apart rotate counterclockwise about one another.

“Think of the teacup ride at Disney or the Tilt-a-Whirl at your local county fair, but with tropical systems instead,” said weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.

The animation to the right shows an example of the Fujiwhara effect this past July in the western Pacific Ocean. A much weaker Tropical Storm Kulap pivoted westward around the northern periphery of a stronger Typhoon Noru as the two systems interacted.

If this Fujiwhara interaction between Jose and Maria did take place, a weakened Jose could get slung back west toward the East Coast around the northern periphery of Maria. Then, Maria would get launched out to sea.

There is no guarantee this Fujiwhara effect will take place, but it’s something we’ll be monitoring for, as well.

UPDATE: Hurricane Maria cripples Dominica as it churns toward Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria has pounded Dominica with “widespread devastation” as it barrels toward St. Croix and threatens catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico.

Hurling winds of 160 mph (257 kph), Maria shredded the Dominica Prime Minister’s house and left much of the island — population 73,000 — in ruins.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Facebook.

“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”

A few hours earlier, the Prime Minister posted, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”

Hurricane Maria battered Guadeloupe and flooded a street in Pointe-a-Pitre.

Maria is now the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica, a former French and British colony with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture.

‘Don’t go out under any circumstances’

As of 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, Maria was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe and 170 miles (275 kilometers southeast of St. Croix.

Hurricane Maria cripples Dominica as it churns toward Puerto Rico
By Euan McKirdy, Holly Yan and Joe Sterling, CNN
Updated 9:09 AM ET, Tue September 19, 2017
Hurricane Maria’s wrath in the Caribbean

Hurricane Maria strengthened into a “potentially catastrophic” Category Five storm as it barrelled into eastern Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma, forcing residents to evacuate in powerful winds and lashing rain.

Hurricane Maria’s wrath in the Caribbean

Hurricane Maria strengthened into a “potentially catastrophic” Category Five storm as it barrelled into eastern Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma, forcing residents to evacuate in powerful winds and lashing rain

Hurling winds of 160 mph (257 kph), Maria shredded the Dominica Prime Minister’s house and left much of the island — population 73,000 — in ruins.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Facebook.

Hurricane Maria track
“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”
A few hours earlier, the Prime Minister posted, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”
Hurricane Maria battered Guadeloupe and flooded a street in Pointe-a-Pitre.

Maria is now the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica, a former French and British colony with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture.
‘Don’t go out under any circumstances’
As of 8 a.m. ET Tuesday, Maria was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe and 170 miles (275 kilometers southeast of St. Croix.
A hurricane warning is in effect Tuesday for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
“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 National Hurricane Center said.
Guadeloupe’s regional government tweeted a stern warning to residents Tuesday: “Don’t go out under any circumstances.”

Puerto Rico says Maria ‘will be catastrophic’
After crossing St. Croix, Maria will head toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday as “an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane,” the National Hurricane Center said.

That would make Maria the first Category 4 or 5 hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 85 years.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has declared a state of emergency. And US President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to aid with federal assistance.
Puerto Rico sheltered many of the evacuees who fled from other Caribbean Islands during Hurricane Irma earlier this month. Now those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are bracing for devastation.

“This is an event that will be damaging to the infrastructure, that will be catastrophic,” Rosselló said. “Our only focus right now should be to make sure we save lives.”
The governor said 500 shelters are available on the island.
“We expect to feel storm winds, tropical storm winds, (from) Tuesday up until late on Thursday. That’s about two-and-a-half days of tropical storm winds,” Rosselló said.
“On Wednesday we will feel the brunt — all of the island will feel the brunt of sustained Category 4 or 5 winds.”
On the coastal city of Salinas, residents waited in long lines for water and essentials.

The Puerto Rico Convention Center in the capital San Juan to the north — which is still housing Hurricane Irma evacuees from other Caribbean islands — is preparing to accept thousands of residents as the worst of the storm is felt.

Rapid intensification
In just 30 hours, Maria’s intensity exploded from 65 mph on Sunday to 160 mph by Monday night, the National Hurricane Center said.

The British Foreign Office said more than 1,300 troops are on standby, either on affected islands or in nearby locations, ready to help after Maria tears through.
One military team has been deployed to the British Virgin Islands, and a British military reconnaissance team is on standby to go to the British territory of Montserrat.
The HMS Ocean is set to arrive in the area at week’s end with 60 tons of government supplies.
Another hurricane, Jose, is also churning in the Atlantic and has spawned tropical storm warnings for part of the US East Coast.
While forecasters don’t anticipate Jose making landfall in the US, it’s still expected to cause “dangerous surf and rip currents” along the East Coast in the next few days, the hurricane center said.

Sources: CNN, NBC, and The Weather Channel

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