…MARIA BECOMES AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE…
…THE EYE AND THE INTENSE INNER CORE IS EXPECTED TO PASS NEAR
DOMINICA DURING THE NEXT FEW HOURS…
A Hurricane Warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
The Meteorological Service of St. Lucia has changed the Hurricane Warning for that island to a Tropical Storm Warning.
The Government of the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane Watch from Isla Saona to Puerto Plata, and a Tropical Storm Watch west of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic Haiti border.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Antigua and Barbuda
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Lucia
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
* Isla Saona to Puerto Plata
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* St. Vincent and the Grenadines
* West of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic Haiti border
At 500 PM AST (2100 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Maria was located by satellite imagery and data from the French radar on Martinique near latitude 15.1 North, longitude 60.7 West. Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday. On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move near Dominica and the adjacent Leeward Islands during the next few hours, over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea the remainder of tonight and Tuesday, and approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 130 mph (215 km/h)
with higher gusts. Maria is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 to 36 hours, and Maria is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane during the next couple of days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles (205 km).
The estimated minimum central pressure is 950 mb (28.06 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
WIND: Hurricane conditions should be spreading across Dominica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique during the next few hours, with tropical storm conditions already occurring over portions of the Leeward Islands. Hurricane conditions should spread through the remainder of the hurricane warning area tonight through Wednesday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area Tuesday through Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions possible tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical storm watch area in St. Vincent and the Grenadines through tonight, and are possible in the tropical storm watch area in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.
STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 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. The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands…6 to 9 ft
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.
RAINFALL: Maria is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Thursday:
Central and southern Leeward Islands…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20
inches. U.S. and British Virgin Islands…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches. Puerto Rico…12 to 18 inches, isolated 25 inches.
Northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla…4 to 8 inches, isolated 10 inches. Windward Islands and Barbados…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches. Eastern Dominican Republic…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.
Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.