From A Tropical Storm To Cat 5 In One Day; Florida & Florida Keys To Be Spared
Already ravaged by Hurricane Irma, the Caribbean is getting pounded by yet another storm.
Hurricane Maria went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 storm in one day, pummeled Dominica early Tuesday morning hit St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The entire island of Puerto Rico was without power after the storm made landfall.
“This is a disaster in the making,” said Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather. “All parties in Puerto Rico and the nearby islands need to know how serious this threat is. The damage done by wind gusts from the last storm (Irma) of 50 to 60 mph will pale in comparison to winds that may reach 140 from Hurricane Maria.”
“It is possible that parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may become uninhabitable for weeks or longer due to the destruction that Maria will cause.”
This makes two Category 5 hurricanes in the same area within a time span of two weeks.
The last time there were two or more Category 5 hurricanes in the same season was in 2007 when Dean and Felix occurred. Prior to this year, 2007 was also the last time two hurricanes made landfall as a Category 5.
“During Tuesday night and Wednesday, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Culebra, Vieques and Puerto Rico will take a direct hit and end up with much more damage, and perhaps catastrophic damage when compared to Irma,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Some of the islands that were largely spared from Irma’s wrath took direct hits from the storm, including Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique.
“With Irma stripping much of the vegetation in the northern Leeward and Virgin Islands, there is a much greater risk of flash flooding and mudslides even if the eye wall of Maria passes by to the south,” Sosnowski added.
At this time, is appears Florida – and the hard-hit Florida Keys from Irma – will escape any damage from Maria.
“The model output consistently shows Maria tracking just east of the Bahamas and staying east of Florida. But going beyond five days, the model output gets less reliable,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said on Sunday the storm could bring more rain, wind and water than Irma, which killed three people and knocked out power to some one million people. Rosselló said 46,000 people — or about 85 percent of customers in the metropolitan area of the capital, San Juan — still don’t have electricity. Another 6,000 were still without drinking water.
The Puerto Ricans have been very helpful in helping the people on the British Virgin Islands get needed supplies after Irma.
Rossello is determined that Puerto Ricans have immediate help after Maria. A ship from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is due to arrive early Tuesday with more than a million gallons of water and 111 generators.
Rosselló also said the island is prepared house 67,000 people across 450 shelters.
“The priority is to be prepared and save lives,” he said.
After Puerto Rico, the storm is expected to hit the Dominican Republic, with the eye going just to the east of the DR.