One of the 10 most vicious storms on record in the Atlantic Ocean basin, Hurricane Maria, reached the shore of southeastern Puerto Rico near Yabucoa at 6:15 Wednesday morning. The storm is currently ruled as a Category 4 hurricane and hit the shore with winds up to 155 miles per hour.
Maria is the most intense storm to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years since the San Ciprian Hurricane in 1932. It is projected to inflict the greatest amount of damage to communities on Puerto Rico’s southeastern shore. Maria is the third Category 4 storm to hit the US or a US territory in the past month, a number which has been unprecedented in modern record keeping.
— Bill Karins (@BillKarins) September 20, 2017
San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city, experienced winds of 115 miles per hour Wednesday morning, being located on the northern side of the hurricane’s eye wall, where its heaviest rain and most intense winds come into play. In addition to San Juan, the island of Vieques, a popular resort spot, will experience winds and rainfall of a similar caliber.
Making matters more difficult, Hurricane Maria knocked out the Doppler radar of San Juan’s airport. This in turn made forecasters have to rely on satellite images in order to track the storm. The storm is projected to have winds greater than 155 miles per hour and can result in up to 2 feet of rainfall.
— Mike Theiss (@MikeTheiss) September 20, 2017
Prior to Puerto Rico, Maria hit St. Croix, a part of the US Virgin Islands. While the region experienced gusts up to 137 miles per hour, reports indicate that it just missed the 175 mile per hour winds by 10 to 12 miles. The area managed to avoid major damage from Hurricane Irma and served as a location for aid to people from areas hit harder by the storm. This means that damage to St. Croix can seriously impede the flow of aid for other regions. The storm had reached its peak on Tuesday evening, during which it was registered as a Category 5 storm. It had a minimum central pressure of 909 millibars and contained 175 mile per hour winds.
— Levi Cowan (@TropicalTidbits) September 20, 2017
Forecasts for the remainder of Wednesday predict a harrowing day for Puerto Rico, with threats of flooding and winds strong enough to ravage populated areas. It’s possible that these threats will continue up until the storm leaves the island on its way toward the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. All of those areas have hurricane warnings in effect, and the storm has the potential to make its way up the eastern coastline of the United States.