Tropical Storm Maria Takes Aim at Caribbean Islands

Tropical Storm Maria Takes Aim at Caribbean Islands”

Hurricane Maria became a Category 4 storm on Monday afternoon as it barreled toward Dominica in the Caribbean's Leeward Islands and took aim for the United States territory of Puerto Rico.

While Jose is capable of producing coastal flooding and pockets of damaging wind from eastern Long Island to coastal MA, its effects are most likely to resemble those of a strong Nor'easter - rather than a devastating hurricane. Other islands were warned to stay alert for changes in the storm. The mammoth storm was moving west-northwest at 9 miles per hour.

Other Leeward Islands are now under hurricane warnings, including Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

If Maria strikes the island as forecast, it will be "more risky than Hugo and Georges", he said.

Those islands are likely to see hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours, since the center of Maria is expected to approach the Leeward Islands late Monday. Tropical storm watches were issued for Barbados, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

If the estimates hold, this will be the second most costly year for hurricane damage since 1980 behind 2005, when a record 28 storms formed in the Atlantic and Katrina devastated New Orleans, according to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. Forecasts call for it to pass straight over Puerto Rico on Wednesday. USA Today reported about half of St. John's 4,500 residents fled the island since Irma. "In all the above areas, these rainfall amounts could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides".

On Friday, the hurricane may come close to the Turks and Caicos and southeast Bahamas, which were ravaged by Irma. Beyond that point, Maria's path becomes more uncertain.

It is still too early to know whether Maria will affect SC or the US mainland.

Maria is one of three storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, but it poses the most danger to the hurricane-battered Caribbean.

"The extremely risky core of Maria is expected to pass over Dominica within the next hour or two", the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. ET advisory.

Jose, which is losing some of its tropical characteristics, is expected to behave like a strong nor'easter along the coast of the Northeast, from near Long Island to eastern MA.

The center points to the likelihood of "direct impacts" on New England, but adds that it would take only a slight deviation of the storm to increase the storm's effects along the coast from DE northward. A tropical storm watch continues for areas to the south down to eastern Long Island.

In other tropical storm news, Hurricane Jose is now a Category 1 storm located about 480 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The mammoth storm was moving west-northwest at 9 miles per hour.

An Air Force Reserve Unit Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew on a route in and around Maria Monday morning to investigate the storm's development, the hurricane center said.

The combination of a unsafe storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

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