Hurricane Maria (Image: NOAA) is responsible for “widespread devastation” according to the prime minister of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami has estimated Maria’s sustained winds at 160 MPH as the storm moves west-northwest at 9 MPH.
Next in the path are the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It is believed those islands will see Maria hit as a dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane.
Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica Prime Minister posted on FaceBook that there was “widespread devastation” in his country. But authorities will have to wait for daylight to access the damage and check-in on the 73,000 individuals who call the independent nation home.
According to the Associated Press, the Prime Minister was rescued from his home where the roof was lost and the house was flooding.
CNN reports that Maria is the most powerful hurricane in history to strike Dominica and will likely be the strongest hurricane (cat 4 or higher) to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years when it makes landfall there tomorrow.
President Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico for federal assistance to aid in the territory’s storm-response and recovery.
With hurricane Irma so fresh in the minds of those impacted, it is hard not to compare Maria with the storm the ravaged the Caribbean, Florida Keys, and laid down blankets of destruction throughout the sunshine state.
Meterologist Pedram Javaheri of CNN, thinks that the intensity of Maria is less like Irma, but strikingly similar to Hurricane Andrew, the 1992 Category 5 hurricane that hit the Bahamas and Florida. Both storms are compact, and Maria’s wind speed comes close to that of Hurricane Andrew – 165 mph – when it hit southern Florida.
For now, the focus in Puerto Rico is on saving lives. The U.S. territory has been housing evacuees from other islands since Irma tore through two weeks ago. They are anticipating tropical storm force and hurricane strength winds to begin today and last through Thursday as the slow-moving Maria roars along its track.
Much is unknown about Maria’s future track. While many models show the powerhouse storm taking a turn to the north before impacting Florida and the U.S. East Coast, it is too early to have any reasonable level of certainty about Maria’s path.
We will continue to bring you the latest information on Hurricane Maria.