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POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE MARIA HEADED FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE MARIA HEADED FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

September 19, 20175725Views

At 8:00 a.m., the center of Hurricane Maria was located near latitude 16.2  degrees North, longitude 62.8 degree West or about 170 miles south-east of St.Croix.  Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 miles per hour (mph), and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday.

On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today, and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph with higher gusts.  Maria is a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.  Sustained tropical storm force winds have recently been reported from Guadeloupe and Antigua.

The minimum central pressure estimated from Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter data is 933 millibars.

Hurricane conditions should spread through the remainder of the Hurricane Warning area later today and Wednesday.

A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 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.

Maria is expected to produce the rain accumulations through Thursday of 10 to 15 inches and isolated 20 inches across the British Virgin Islands.

Rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

All residents of the BVI are urged to monitor the movement of Maria closely and take action to protect life and property.

A hurricane warning remains 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.

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.