Health Care

Hurricane Maria now a 'potentially catastrophic Category 5' storm, latest forecast shows

Hurricane Maria now a 'potentially catastrophic Category 5' storm, latest forecast shows”

Less urgent "watches" were issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands where at least nine people were killed during Irma; French-Dutch island St Martin where 15 people died; Saba and St Eustatius; St Barthelemy and Anguilla. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

The Coast Guard captain of the port San Juan anticipates setting port condition Yankee at 8 p.m. Monday for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm strengthened early Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and could reach upwards of 140 miles per hour within the next two days.

The hurricane center said hurricane conditions should begin to affect parts of the Leeward Islands by Monday night, with storm surge raising water levels by 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) near the storm's center.

Hurricane watches have been issued for the USA and British Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico.

Models take the storm offshore up the US east coast. Maria formed much farther east, so it hasn't had time to undergo eyewall replacements that built Irma into a beast capable of spreading devastating winds across islands and from coast to coast in Florida.

Maria could make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, which was spared the full brunt of Irma although much of the island had its power knocked out.

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- Central and southern Leeward Islands - 10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches.

Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Some locations could see up to 25 inches.

This storm is rapidly intensifying which is a troubling scenario for the islands it will sweep across. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said officials had prepared about 450 shelters with a capacity for almost 68,000 people - or even 125,000 in an emergency.

The Baja California Sur state government prepared storm shelters and canceled classes for Monday.

Irma became one of the strongest hurricanes on record, maintaining winds over 180 miles per hour for almost two days. Irma hit St. Martin with Category 5 force winds, turning the picturesque island into a jumble of blown apart buildings and shredded trees.

As Hurricane Maria nears the Leeward Islands, Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted itineraries, some of them for the second time in five days.

With Jose moving north at 9 miles per hour, a tropical storm watch is in effect for areas from Fenwick Island to Sandy Hook; Delaware Bay South; East Rockaway Inlet to Plymouth; Block Island; Martha's Vineyard; and Nantucket.



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