Hurricane Maria regains Category 5 strength, now heading toward Puerto Rico

Tropical storm Maria threatening battered Caribbean islands
Maria Becomes Category 2, Puerto Rico Braces for Direct Hit
Author

20 September, 2017

But beyond shredded foliage, downed trees and physical damages, what Skerrit said he feared most were injuries to Dominicans and possible deaths from likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the island of St. John and St. Thomas were heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma, Governor Kenneth Mapp has ordered residents to cease Irma recovery efforts and instead switch to preparing for Maria.

Hurricane Maria briefly weakened to a Category 4 storm after making landfall over Dominica but quickly regained its strength as it churned near Guadeloupe. However, according to forecasters, it could increase again as it moves towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Skeritt said his main focus was now on rescuing those trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.

He called the devastation "mind boggling", adding, "We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds". As per the Prime Minister, Maria has destroyed everything money can buy in Dominica.

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The Dutch navy tweeted that troops were heading to the two tiny neighbouring islands of Saba and St Eustatius to ensure security following widespread complaints after the first hurricane of looting and lawlessness on St Martin, among the worst hit by Irma, with 14 killed. Overnight Tuesday, Maria is expected to make landfall again on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico - areas that are still recovering from Irma.

Hurricane Maria, now a "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles an hour, is 150 miles southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted that hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 310 miles (500 km). Skerrit said at the time that the devastation caused could set the country back decades.

Also in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is producing risky surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States.

Meteorologists are also watching Hurricane Jose, a less powerful storm in the Atlantic to the north. Jose, still a Category 1 hurricane, according to an 8:00 a.m. update, is expected to stir up "dangerous surf and rip currents" along the eastern coast of the USA in the next few days.

If the storm - which ripped through the former French and British colony with catastrophic winds - retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1932, when a Category 4 storm swept the USA island territory, according to Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen.


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