Published On: Wed, Sep 20th, 2017

AccuWeather Warns Maria Impact will far Surpass Irma in Puerto Rico

Residents should prepare for widespread tree damage, days to weeks of power outages and structural damage at the hands of a Category 3 hurricane. Well-constructed homes may sustain major roof or siding damage.

“Parts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands may become uninhabitable for weeks or longer.”
WHO: Dr. Joel N. Myers, weather expert and head of the leading global weather firm AccuWeather says:

Hurricane Maria is expected to bring direct impacts to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, parts of Hispaniola and the Bahamas this week. Up to 10% of GDP for Puerto Rico will be impacted by storm.

As of 11 AM EDT, Maria was located approximately 115 miles west of Guadeloupe, or 150 miles southeast of St. Croix. Maria was still a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. Maria was tracking to the west-northwest at 10 mph.

Maria made landfall on Dominica around 9:15 PM AST (9:15 PM EDT) with estimated maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH.

The eye of Maria will track close to the Virgin Islands late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning before crossing Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest during the day Wednesday. The eye will then track very close to the Turks and Caicos Islands Friday morning.

Maria will remain a major hurricane, potentially as strong as Category 4 status (130-156 mph), for the remainder of the week. This will bring catastrophic destruction to areas that missed the worst of Irma.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands:

Tuesday and Wednesday as Maria moves just south of the Virgin Islands and toward Puerto Rico, destructive winds will spread across these islands. Wind gusts across these locations could reach upwards of 140-160 mph which will cause widespread power outages that can last for weeks. Homes, businesses and other structures will be significantly damaged or destroyed.

Fluctuations in intensity are possible but we expect that Maria would make landfall in Puerto Rico as a strong Category 4 storm or perhaps Category 5 storm. The last Category 4 hurricane to make landfall there was in 1899. (San Ciriaco Hurricane).

Rainfall amounts of 8-16 inches with local amounts of up to 2 feet are expected across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands along with Puerto Rico. This will lead to widespread, life-threatening flooding and mudslides.
The east and southeastern coast of Puerto Rico through the Virgin Islands will experience a storm surge/coastal inundation of 6-10 feet which will devastate the beaches and coastal regions.

Travel and tourism will be seriously impacted – the industry makes up 6% of Puerto Rico’s GPD (according to Reuters) and Puerto Rico’s GDP is approximately 101.3 billion USD as of 2016. Travel and tourism represent 29.9% of GDP in the U.S. Virgin Islands (2014, World Travel & Tourism Council).
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.
Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southern Bahamas:

Rainfall totals of 8-16 inches can be expected across these areas with local amounts of up to 2 feet, which will lead to life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Winds may still be gusting to 130-140 mph as the eye passes near the Turks and Caicos Islands Friday morning. Similar wind gusts will be possible for the southern Bahamas during the day Friday. Widespread power outages and significant structural damage is likely. Some buildings will be completely destroyed and vegetation will be wiped out.

Some slight weakening is possible as Maria crosses some of the higher terrain in Puerto Rico; however, Maria is expected to remain a major hurricane as it impacts the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southern Bahamas late Thursday night through much of Friday.

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