Recovery

Category 4 Hurricane Maria is Destroying Portions of Puerto Rico

Most of the center's models have Maria following a path curving up the East Coast and staying away from land.

by Lee Tolliver, The Virginian-Pilot / September 20, 2017

(TNS) - Hurricane Maria's winds have dropped to 140 mph, but it's still a Category 4 storm in Puerto Rico with "destructive winds and flooding," the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 am. update.

Most of the center's models have Maria following a path curving up the East Coast and staying away from land. How much wind, rain and storm surge is pushed into the mid-Atlantic will depend on how close the storm gets to the coast. And because the storm wouldn't be near Hampton Roads until the middle of next week, the center is warning that any forecasts past five days are highly unreliable.

Maria made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, at 6:35 a.m. with sustained winds of 155 mph. Interaction with land is the reason the winds dropped.

Maria's small, 8-mile-wide center was approaching the island's northern coast. The hurricane center said the storm is bringing torrential rain, which could cause mudslides, and storm surges of 10 or more feet.

Maria is also pounding the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, the second catastrophic storm to strike there in as many weeks.

The National Weather Service confirmed this morning that radar in San Juan, Puerto Rico was no longer functioning.

Maria was a Category 5 storm as it approached the island, but hours before landfall it went through an eyewall replacement that lowered sustained winds.

Next up for the third Category 4 or higher storm of the season is the Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jose won't go away and continues to pound the U.S. coast from Hatteras to New England with high surf and dangerous rip currents. Jose is packing winds of 65 mph and is moving northeast at 8 mph. The storm is expected to meander off the New England coast through the weekend.

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