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Hurricane Maria Continues to Strengthen

Hurricane Maria Continues to Strengthen

September 18, 20172272Views

At 2:00 p.m., the eye of Hurricane Maria was located by the French radar on Martinique near latitude 14.9 degrees North, longitude 60.4 degrees West or about 70 miles east-southeast of Dominica.

Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 miles per hour (mph) and this motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected through Tuesday night.

On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late today and approach the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 125 mph with higher gusts.

Maria is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the northeastern Caribbean Sea.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

The minimum central pressure estimated from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft data is 956 millibars.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the British Virgin Islands. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.  Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Satellite imagery indicates the presence of a clearing eye, a sign that Maria is becoming an intense hurricane.

Findings from the Hurricane Hunter aircraft and from nearby surface observations show that Maria’s wind field is rather small compared to average. Hurricane-force winds extend out only to about 15 miles.

Without much land interaction, Maria may remain a small hurricane as it tracks through the northeast Caribbean over the next few days.

Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the British Virgin Islands. This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

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

Hurricane force winds from Maria could blow debris from Hurricane Irma around, creating dangerous conditions. Residents are therefore encouraged to secure all loose items in and around their homes.

Residents are also urged to monitor the movement of Maria closely.

Please continue to monitor local media stations, DDM’s website (bviddm.com) and Facebook at BVIDDM for regular updates.

Disclaimer: The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is not an official Meteorological Office. The Information disseminated by the Department is gathered from a number of professional sources used or contracted by the DDM to provide such information. This information is to be used as a guide by anyone who has interest in local weather conditions. By no means can the DDM or the BVI Government be held accountable by anyone who uses this information appropriately for legal evidence or in justification of any decision which may result in the loss of finances, property or life.