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By David Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Hurricane Maria struck the tiny nation of Dominica as a Category 4 storm early Tuesday. Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said the storm caused “widespread devastation,” according to CNN.
Skerrit tweeted, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”
As Maria heads toward Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Tuesday morning that Maria had reintensified to Category 5 status.
Maria’s Winds Reported at 160 Miles per Hour
An Air Force “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft flew into the hurricane and estimated Maria’s maximum sustained winds at 160 mph.
Maria is moving west-northwest at 9 mph and is expected to continue on that track through Wednesday. The NHC tracking predicts Maria will strike Puerto Rico sometime between 8 p.m. Tuesday and 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
Puerto Rico Government Shuts Down San Juan Port to Reduce Hurricane Damage
On Monday, officials in Puerto Rico closed the port of San Juan to all inbound commercial traffic. The port is expected to be shut down entirely at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
“This storm promises to be catastrophic for our island. All of Puerto Rico will experience hurricane force winds,” Ernesto Morales, of the NHC’s San Juan office, told the Miami Herald.
Hurricane Maria Also Expected to Impact Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Southeast US
After Puerto Rico, Maria’s projected path takes it over the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the southeastern end of Cuba before heading toward the southeast coast of the U.S. on Saturday.
“Maria arrives just over a week after [Hurricane] Irma’s eye crossed St. Martin and the British Virgin Islands with 185 mph winds, narrowly missing Puerto Rico,” the Herald noted. “The Category 5 storm killed three in Puerto Rico, toppled trees and knocked out power to about a million, but spared the island a direct blow.”
Puerto Rico is not expected to get another “glancing blow” from Maria.