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Storm heads for US territories of St Croix and Puerto Rico, leaving island of Dominica devastated
An anemometer on St Croix – – is registering ever increasing wind gusts as Hurricane Maria approaches the Virgin Islands:
Wow- 95 gust now on St. Croix.
Timothy Harris, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, has declared Wednesday to be “national clean-up day” after Hurricane Maria passed the islands. Residents are asked to pitch in from 9am on Wednesday to help clear debris. But the warns: Please be aware that fallen power lines may be live and extreme caution must be taken. Also be aware that there may be residual effects of the storm.
An aerial reconnaissance of Dominica by the Caribbean disaster emergency management agency shows some of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria across the island. Ronald Jackson, the agency’s executive director, says estimates suggest 70%-80% of buildings have been damaged, along with hospitals, roads and bridges.
Although it is the US Virgin Islands – and specifically the southernmost island of St Croix – that will bear the brunt of Maria as it passes, the British Virgin Islands are also under a hurricane warning and can expect heavy rains and strong winds, less than two weeks after a battering from Hurricane Irma. BVI governor Gus Jaspert told the Press Association that with up to 90% of houses destroyed or damaged by Irma, “shelter is a real issue”: It is completely unprecedented to have one category five, which has devastated large parts of the BVI, then now to be possibly having another category five bearing down on us. Hopefully it is tracking a little bit south, but on the current trajectory we are going to have impact in terms of flooding, high wind and possible landslides or storm surges as well.
Weather stations in St Croix are already falling foul of Hurricane Maria – something we saw in Barbuda, too, as Hurricane Irma approached:
Anemometers have blown away at both stations on St. Croix.
The NHC forecast keeps hurricane warnings in place for the following islands: Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are occurring over the Virgin Islands and will spread over Puerto Rico overnight. Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by early Wednesday.
In better news, the US National Hurricane Center has downgraded the former Hurricane Jose to a tropical storm. But the NHC does warn that Jose could still cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions along the US east coast, Bermuda and the Bahamas for several more days.
The latest advisory from the US National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Maria – still at category 5 strength – is now just 30 miles (45km) from St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Its maximum sustained wind speeds are 175mph (280km/h). On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move near or over St Croix in the US Virgin Islands within the next couple of hours, then cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and pass just north of the north-east coast of the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and Thursday.
A final warning from the US National Hurricane Center to the US Virgin Islands as the eye of Maria is about to strike St Croix:
Hurricane Advisory 16: Eye of Potentially Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Maria Nearing St. Croix.
The US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted support for Puerto Rico – a US territory – which faces a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on Wednesday. Before then, Maria is due imminently to strike the US Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!
Satellite imagery shows the outer eyewall (marked in blue) of Maria has almost reached the US Virgin Island of St Croix, seen here outlined in green:
Edge of sustained hurricane force winds nearing St Croix
As the eye of Maria approaches the US Virgin Islands, the effects of its outer rain bands and high winds are already being felt, Agence France-Presse reports: On St John island, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, locals reported seeing trees dramatically swaying in swirling winds, with rain pouring “sideways”. Judi Buckley, former senator for St Croix island, traveled to St John from her South Carolina home to help with the Irma relief effort – only to get caught up in Maria.
A 10pm update from the US National Hurricane Center warns that “sustained hurricane-force winds should start on St Croix soon”. St Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, home to around 50,000 people.
Norbert Figueroa is reporting for the Guardian from San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, and sends this update: The number of displaced people has increased exponentially in the last three hours, going from less than 500 to over 4,400 and counting. Local authorities still urge everyone in danger zones to move to one of the 500 shelters immediately. Luis Muñoz Marín airport has already reported wind gusts of up to 42mph (68km/h), which speak of the magnitude and strength of Hurricane Maria, considering it is still located about 160 miles (250km) south-east of San Juan.
Confirmed reports from Dominica are still not available, but West Indies and Caribbean News says it understands that 90% of buildings on the island have been destroyed. . Its key points are:
This image from the GOES16 weather satellite shows Maria bearing down on St Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. The island of Vieques is then next in its path, before the hurricane is forecast to smack into Puerto Rico, seen here in the green outer band to the north-west of the eye.
infrared image of
Ross University school of medicine, which is in Dominica, says it is is still working to account for its students – more than 80% of whom are US citizens, with close to 10% from Canada – after Maria swept the island. But many relatives and friends outside Dominica say the hotline number provided is unavailable and they have been unable to make contact with the school or students.
Maria is intensifying. With wind speeds now up to 175mph (280km/h) and barometric pressure down to 909hPa, it is now one of the most intense hurricanes in Atlantic history:
Breaking pressure now a RECORD 909mb making it the 10th most intense hurricane in Atlantic basin history
It is currently almost 9pm in the US Virgin Islands, where Hurricane Maria is expected to hit around midnight. Reuters reports: The hurricane was expected to pass near St Croix, the part of the US Virgin Islands that escaped the brunt of Irma. St Croix is home to about 55,000 year-round residents, roughly half of the entire territory’s population. US Virgin Islands governor Kenneth Mapp warned residents of St Croix that they would feel the brunt of the hurricane’s winds around midnight. St Thomas and St John, to the north of St Croix, were not likely to suffer a direct hit, he said. If you’ve identified a spot, a closet, a corner on the inside of your home and you have some breach in your roof, one of the things you can do is take a mattress or something and have it as a barrier to make sure that you’re safe.” Many USVI residents fled to shelters around midday on Tuesday. Mapp urged islanders to focus on saving themselves: You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart. The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.” US airlines said on Tuesday they would cap one-way fares at $99 to $384 to aid evacuations. Maria was predicted to be the worst storm to hit St Croix since Hugo, a category 4 storm, in 1989.
Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, which is expected to be struck by Hurricane Maria within the next 24 hours, says more than 4,000 people – and 100 pets – have already sought refuge in official emergency shelters:
A las 8:00pm, contamos con 4422 refugiados y 105 mascotas.
The first reconnaissance flights over Dominica reveal “significant damage”, according to Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency.
CDEMA's First sets of Boots, Relief and Comms set to depart Barbados to Dominica this evening via Barbados Coast Guard.
More relief and response personnel due out in the Morning#Hurricanemaria2017
Thanks to our neighbors in Martinique for facilitating PM Dominicas Air Recon.
CDEMA/RSS Recon Overflight confirm significant damage in Dominica.
Rogelio Sierra Díaz, Cuba’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, has also offered support for Dominica as the island begins to assess the damage wrought by Maria:
Calls upon the world for solidarity with . stands willing and ready to assist in any way possible to aid in recovery efforts
News from Dominica – which took the full brunt of Maria’s category five winds and rain on Monday night – has been very slow to arrive. Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in the early hours of Tuesday, : So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains. The government and people of Antigua and Barbuda stands in solidarity with the government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica during this time of need. We express our deep sorrow at the loss of life and property resulting from the passage of Hurricane Maria over the island. We stand ready to lend support to our brothers and sisters in Dominica.
A hurricane warning means residents should expect hurricane conditions and make immediate preparations to protect life. Warnings are currently in place for the following islands:
This is Claire Phipps picking up our live coverage as Hurricane Maria continues to barrel its way across the Caribbean. from the US National Hurricane Center, at 8pm local time, warns that the category 5 hurricane is moving closer to St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Maria is currently about 60 miles (100km) south-east of the island, with winds of 175mph (280km/h). Preparations against life-threatening storm surge and rainfall flooding and destructive winds should be rushed to completion.
Journalist Norbert Figueroa, reporting on the ground in San Juan, has an update on the potentially devastating impacts to Puerto Rico’s infrastructure: Puerto Rico’s struggling and decaying power and telecommunications infrastructures are expected to be some of the most affected by this hurricane. It’s possible all communications and power networks could collapse at some point on Wednesday.
Puerto Rico will need billions in federal aid after Hurricane Maria, according to a report in the .
Puerto Rico will need billions in federal help after Hurricane Maria The island’s utility provider filed for a form of bankruptcy in July, and two months later Hurricane Irma passed just north of San Juan, knocking out power to nearly 1 million people and causing an estimated $1 billion in damage. With thousands still without power, Hurricane Maria is approaching... The Puerto Rican government, which sought bankruptcy relief in exchange for supervised fiscal belt-tightening in May, will need federal assistance to recover from Maria and Irma. Repairing and replacing power lines and stations throughout the territory after Maria will likely cost billions, though the island doesn’t have any voting power in Congress.”
The National Hurricane Center’s latest update says that as of 7pm local time, Maria remains a category 5 hurricane that is “extremely dangerous” and “still strengthening”. Officials report that the maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph (280 km/h).
Reporter Norbert Figueroa has an update from the ground in Puerto Rico, where evacuations and hurricane preparation continue: In San Juan, the wind is slowly incrementing, but it’s still not sustained. Rain is also intermittent but becoming more recurrent as time passes. We are going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico and we’ll have to rebuild. But that’s secondary to life.”
The Puerto Rico governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is now warning of a “total collapse of the energy system in Puerto Rico”. He National Public Radio that Maria will cause significantly more damage than Hurricane Irma:
Gov. Rossello says Maria will be much more damaging than Irma, and that Puerto Rico will need “help from all our fellow citizens.”
Rossello tells that Hurricane Maria's impact will probably lead to a “total collapse of the energy system in Puerto Rico.”
Here is recent footage of the San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, giving an emotional interview from a shelter:
Here's some advice from the mayor of San Juan to the people of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria barrels toward the country. I’m scared for the people I’m responsible for. And I’m scared that when we come out of here, the devastation and the loss of lives would be great. So I’m just scared for my people.”
Hurricane center forecasters have said it “now appears likely” that Maria will still be at category 5 intensity when it moves over the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the AP. The center of the storm was forecast to move over or near the US Virgin Island of St Croix and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday, leading to “life-threatening” floods.
Here is the latest storm surge and rainfall information for Hurricane
Reporter Daniel Cassady provided this update from San Juan earlier this afternoon as Maria continued to edge closer: The capital city of Puerto Rico seemed calm this afternoon. In the morning, there was a sense of urgency on the road, and the few people who were out on the street were securing their windows with plywood or corrugated steel. From Guaynabo to Old San Juan, most businesses, with the exception of grocery stores and gas stations, were closed.
People are lined up to get ice in preparation for Hurricane Maria. reports from San Juan, Puerto Rico
523 in the shelter
France’s interior minister has reported that at least 150,000 homes have lost electricity after Maria passed over two French Caribbean islands. In Guadeloupe, 80,000 households were without power and in Martinique, 70,000 were affected, according to the Associated Press report on Gerard Collomb’s remarks in Paris late Tuesday. Here is earlier footage from Guadeloupe:
Although they missed the worst of the wind from Cat. 5 , still got hit hard overnight. Video from
Sam Levin here, taking over our . Here is the latest on the storm, which has grown in force and is continuing to batter the Caribbean:
Here are the Key Messages for advisory 14. Go to for details
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