NEW → 6:35 a.m. ET: Maria has officially made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Sustained winds of 90 mph (96 km/h) have been reported there, with gusts up to 113 mph (182 km/h).
NEW → 1:00 a.m. ET: Maria’s outer storm eyewall is hitting St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday night, bringing sustained winds of 90 mph (144 km/h).
The National Hurricane Center says a wind gust of 137 mph (220 km/h) was reported late Tuesday night.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Maria, now a category 5 hurricane, could be “potentially catastrophic” with winds of 165 mph (270 km/h) as it gets closer to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Maria is moving west-northwest at 10 mph (17 km/h) and is expected to pass over or near the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday night and over Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning.
The storm made landfall over the island of Dominica on Monday night, causing widespread damage.
Current hurricane warnings are issued for:
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
- Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
Puerto Rico prepares for the worst
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of the storm. He urged citizens to make plans to shelter ahead of Maria’s likely landfall.
Puerto Rico governor ahead of #Maria: "We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.” https://t.co/dtA0PlEYj4 pic.twitter.com/kTfyDdQscl
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) September 20, 2017
Torrential rainfall is expected in Puerto Rico. The NHC forecasts 12 to 18 inches, with some isolated areas receiving as much as 25 inches of rain.
NHC warns the rain will cause “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides” on the island.
NWS San Juan staff reporting. Still here & safe. Personal del SNM San Juan reportándose. Aun aquí & seguros. Thanks/Gracias. #prwx #usviwx
— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan) September 20, 2017
Dominica suffers “widespread devastation”
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a Facebook post that “all what money can buy and replace” was lost when Maria made landfall Monday night.
“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.
“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating… indeed, mind boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.”
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in a Facebook post
Dominica Initial situation overview indicates 70-80% damage to building stock, damage to hospital, roads and bridges.#hurricanemaria2017
— Ronald Jackson (@RHughJackson) September 20, 2017
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, headquartered in Barbados, said it will be sending relief supplies to Dominica.