'Potentially Catastrophic' Hurricane Maria Devastates Dominica, Heads For Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Intensifies To A Category 3 Storm As It Bears Down On The Irma-Battered Caribbean

For those choosing to stay in their homes during the storm, he said, they might consider climbing into a second-floor bathtub and pulling a mattress over them to stay safe in the event they lose their roofs.

Hurricane Maria intensified into a risky Category 5 storm and pounded the small island of Dominica as it surged into the eastern Caribbean on Monday night, and forecasters warned it might become even stronger.

"We have lost all what money can buy and replace", Dominica's premier Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook, saying there were initial reports of "widespread devastation".

Now packing 120 mph sustained winds and higher gusts, along with a minimum central pressure of 959mb (having dropped nearly 20 mb in the last few hours), weather models forecast that hurricane Maria will continue to intensify into a major category 4 or 5 storm, a awful prospect for the already hurricane ravaged islands that fall within the forecast cone. That means "Puerto Rico and other islands that suffered only glancing blows from Irma could now be directly confronted with hurricane conditions".

"We can not afford to be complacent - it is a hurricane", Mullin said.

Authorities in the US territory of Puerto Rico, which faced the possibility of a direct hit, warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm's expected arrival there on Wednesday. The forecast track takes Maria directly over the USA island, which if intensity forecasts prove correct could result in considerable insurance losses, with a chance of impact for reinsurance capital as insurers tend to leverage more risk transfer in the Caribbean region.

The debris it left is now scattered across the island, ready to be picked up again by Hurricane Maria.

The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kenneth Mapp, said Maria would pass within 10 miles (16 km) of the island of St. Croix, which escaped the brunt of Irma on September 6.




Authorities in the USA territory of Puerto Rico, which faced the possibility of a direct hit, warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm's expected arrival there on Wednesday.

Another hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic and has triggered tropical storm warnings for the northeastern United States.

A military reconnaissance team is also on standby to go to neighbouring Montserrat and assess any potential needs if the storm hits there later Tuesday.

"You have to evacuate".

Officials said 450 shelters will be opened starting this afternoon and warned of possible catastrophic damage and a possible collapse of the "vulnerable" electrical system. Parts of Puerto Rico could see up to 25 inches (64 cm) of rain, it said. "Otherwise, they will die", Public Safety Commissioner Hector Pesquera said at a news conference.

"Many residents are still displaced, homes are not fully secured and our natural protections have had severe damage due to the passage of Hurricane Irma". "I don't know how to make this any clearer".

Maria is the 13th named Atlantic storm of the year, the seventh hurricane so far this season and the fourth major hurricane - defined as Category 3 or higher - following Harvey, Irma and Jose, the NHC said.

In addition, tropical storm warnings are in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigue and Barbuda. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph). Jose's center was about 365 miles (590 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, early Tuesday and moving north at 9 mph (15 kph).

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