Update: The National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Maria has just strengthened to a "potentially catastrophic" Category-5 Storm with winds expected over 160mph.
Maria's track places her right over the top of Puerto Rico on Tueaday...
President Trump authorizs Homeland Security Dept., FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, supplementing local response efforts resulting from Hurricane Maria.
Does this look familiar?
As AP reports, Hurricane Maria has intensified into a dangerous Category 4 storm as it bears down on the Caribbean.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday the storm is growing in strength as it approaches land. The eye of the storm is expected to pass near the island of Dominica on Monday evening.
The center called the storm "extremely dangerous," with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph).
At 5 p.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 45 miles (70 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica.
A Hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
* * *
As we detaile earlier, less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma hammered the Caribbean, leaving the tiny island of Barbuda uninhabitable and hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans without power, Hurricane Maria is expected to follow closely behind its predecessor, delivering another destructive blow to the region before most areas affected by Irma have had time to recover. As Hurricane Maria hastens toward the eastern Caribbean, forecasters are warning that it could strengthen into a major storm by the time it passes through the Leeward Islands later Monday, according to CBS. That poses a huge problem for residents of the Caribbean.
After reaching category-one hurricane strength on Sunday, CBS reports that Maria is expected to quickly become much stronger over the next two days and follow a path that would take it near many of the islands wrecked by Hurricane Irma and on to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The National Hurricane Center has already issued advisories for much of the Caribbean. Here’s a summary of the NHC’s latest update, including stats about Maria’s location and attributes as of 5 a.m. Monday. Note that the storm has maximum wind speeds of 90 mph….
"Significant strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane before it moves through the Leeward Islands," according to the National Hurricane Center's latest update.
SUMMARY OF 500 AM AST...0900 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 100 MI...160 KM E OF MARTINIQUE
ABOUT 130 MI...215 KM ESE OF DOMINICA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...90 MPH...150 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 290 DEGREES AT 13 MPH...20 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...977 MB...28.85 INCHES
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Antigua and Barbuda
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Lucia
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Indeed, Maria is likely to be at category 3 or 4 storm by the time it moves into the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea, according to NHC forecasts. While only one of three storms churning in the Atlantic Ocean, it poses the biggest threat to the Caribbean, which is struggling to recover from Irma.
Hurricane conditions should begin to affect parts of the Leeward Islands later Monday and Monday night, potentially causing a storm surge that raises water levels by four to six feet near Maria's center. The storm was predicted to bring 6 to 12 inches of rain across the islands, with more in isolated areas.
But in what’s perhaps the biggest concern, at least for the US government, Maria could make landfall on Puerto Rico, causing potentially more devastation than Irma, which passed close by the island, but didn't make landfall.
To wit, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said officials had prepared about 450 shelters with a capacity for nearly 68,000 people, or even 125,000 in an emergency. He said schools were cancelled for Monday and government employees would work only a half day. Officials in the Dominican Republic urged people to leave areas prone to flooding and said fishermen should remain in port, according to CBS.
Worse still, some forecasters are warning that by the time Maria makes landfall in PR, it could be a category four storm.
Meanwhile the National Hurricane Center reports that Hurricane Jose - one of three active storms in the Atlantic - has begun to weaken as it moves northward past the east coast of the US. While the storm appears to be too far away from the coastline to threaten a landfall, it could create “potentially dangerous surf and rip currents…along the east coast of the US” from Delaware to Cape Cod. Early Monday, Jose was centered about 280 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Norma threatened Mexico's Los Cabos resort area at the southern end of the Baja California peninsula seemed to ease as forecasters said the storm's center was likely to remain offshore.