UPDATE: Hurricane Maria has strengthened into a category 3 storm and is believed to be gaining more power in order to become a category 4 with 150 mph winds soon.
Areas of Puerto Rico are now under evacuation orders with 12-18 inches of rain likely. Flooding is expected as are damaging winds and storm surge.
450 shelters will open by this afternoon in order to prepare for Wednesday morning’s impact. The U.S. territory faced Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago.
Most current models have Maria taking a northward turn before getting close to the Florida coast. But it is too far out to determine exactly what track the powerful storm may take.
Here is our story from earlier today:
Hurricane Jose has turned away from Florida’s coast and is expected to keep the storm’s center just off of the eastern U.S. coastline. Residents from the North Carolina shores to New England’s Nantucket could receive up to 5 inches of rain, and tropical storm force winds. The storm is not predicted to make landfall, although it will most likely send powerful winds, rip-currents, and up to 5 inches of rain to the coastal areas along its path.
The news is not good for the Caribbean islands where Hurricane Maria (Image:NOAA) is set to whip through this week. The Leeward Islands are bracing for impact tonight, as Maria is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane.
Less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma ravaged the Eastern Caribbean, claiming the lives of more than 40 people in the area. In the wake of destruction, power grids are fragile or not functioning and resources are limited.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has just seen devastation from Irma and is now preparing for Maria’s winds and rain, projected to begin Tuesday. Due to Maria, some Irma disaster relief has been delayed or canceled. A much needed shipment of plywood and power tools was nixed after Maria’s forecast made the flight too risky.
Meanwhile, more than 20 million residents of Florida are wondering if their Irma-battered state will now have to face a problem like Maria. The National Hurricane Center (NOAA) states that while Maria is “likely to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by midweek as a dangerous major hurricane,” they have not issued any warnings or watches related to the potential impact on Florida.
The forecast for Maria’s track is shown in the image from NOAA. According to their projections in the image, the storm’s Florida impact, if any, would not occur for about a week. Still, with recovery efforts underway and power not fully restored, Floridians do not want to imagine the possibility of another hurricane striking the state.
We will continue to update our Hurricane Maria coverage as more details become available.