Intensifying Hurricane Maria is a severe threat to the Caribbean and Puerto Rico; Jose to scrape Northeast coast – Washington Post

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The Post’s Jason Samenow has the latest forecast for Hurricanes Maria and Jose as they approach the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Northeast coast respectively. (Elyse Samuels,Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

The wicked 2017 hurricane season is set to deliver its next two punishing blows from Hurricanes Maria and Jose. In both the Caribbean and along the Atlantic coast of the Northeast United States, conditions are set to deteriorate rapidly through Wednesday as these storms arrive.

Of the two storms, however, Maria is the much more serious hurricane. The strengthening Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph has the potential to cause widespread destruction along its path from the central Lesser Antilles through Puerto Rico.

“Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane watch is in effect for that island,” the National Hurricane Center said Monday.

While Jose is capable of producing coastal flooding and pockets of damaging wind from Delaware to Massachusetts, its effects are most likely to resemble those of a strong Nor’easter – rather than a devastating hurricane.

Maria


(NASA)

This storm is rapidly intensifying which is a troubling scenario for the islands it will sweep across. At 11 a.m. Monday, it was positioned 60 miles east of Martinique, plowing west-northwest at 10 mph. The Hurricane Center predicts it will reach Category 4 intensity late Monday or early Tuesday and may peak in intensity Wednesday when it is nearing St. Croix and Puerto Rico.

“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions appear favorable for additional rapid strengthening for the next 24 hours and possibly longer,” the Hurricane Center said.

On Monday, the storm will cut across the islands of Dominica, Martinique, French Guadeloupe and St. Lucia, where hurricane warnings are in effect. It will also come close to and affect St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, also under hurricane warnings, but perhaps positioned far enough north of the storm to miss its brunt.

The worst part of the storm is also likely to pass a good deal south of beleaguered Barbuda and Antigua, reeling from Hurricane Irma, but they may still get brushed by some strong wind gusts and heavy showers.

On Tuesday, Maria should mostly pass through a patch of the Caribbean free of islands before potentially closing in on St. Croix, now under a hurricane warning, late in the day or at night. This island was one of the few U.S. Virgin Islands that was spared Irma’s wrath, but may well get hammered by Maria.

The other U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands will also need to carefully monitor and prepare for Maria. While they may remain north of its most severe effects, they could easily face hurricane conditions

By Thursday, the storm is likely to pass very close to or directly affect Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest. A hurricane has not made landfall in Puerto Rico since Georges in 1998.

Just one Category 5 hurricane has hit Puerto Rico once in recorded history; there is the outside chance Maria could become the second. The last Category 4 storm to strike the island occurred in 1932.

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