ANOTHER MAJOR HURRICANE WREAKS HAVOC IN CARIBBEAN
Hurricane Maria is a category five hurricane and will be bearing down on the Virgin Islands overnight and likely make landfall in Puerto Rico Wednesday morning. Maria is not just a major hurricane, but has made it in the record books. Hurricane hunters recorded a central pressure down to 909 mb - which places Maria as the 10th lowest pressure recorded in the Atlantic Basin.
Now not only are these islands dealing with an incredibly strong storm, but they just dealt with one -- not even two weeks ago Irma moved through! The recovery is *ongoing* and that's part of the problem. Puerto Rico has debris that still hasn't been cleared and may cause additional problems (as projectiles) as Maria approaches the island.
The models above are unanimous for landfall in Puerto Rico. The path, however, would place the most populated part of the island (San Juan) near the most dangerous part of the storm (the northeast quadrant - typically the strongest side of a hurricane).
Incredibly strong winds (sustained winds of 170+ mph), storm surge and heavy rainfall will take over the islands as Maria makes a small turn to the northwest Tuesday night.
Thereafter, Maria will pass close to Hispaniola and continue to move to the north toward Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas through the end of the week. The hurricane does not pose a threat to the state of Florida right now. Beyond that it's too soon to know where exactly the storm will go. Many models suggest Maria stays just offshore of the east coast U.S. - similar to Jose (which is just meandering off the east coast of the U.S. right now). Strong winds and high surf may become an issue next week.
It seems like week after week we're talking about a hurricane and a strong one at that. Yes, 2017 is already rivaling some of the most active hurricane season on record -- but the activity right now isn't unusual for this time of year. The peak of hurricane season is September 10th, but the activity in the tropics remains high through the middle of October.
On top of that - there is still a lot of time to go. Hurricane season runs all the way until November 30th. What has been unusual, though, is how fast these storms have been intensifying and the number of landfalls. This has to do with warm waters in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf along with low wind shear - a recipe for hurricanes to strengthen and maintain that strength.
This season will be going down in the record books for many, many reasons.