Maria Leaves Puerto Rico a Disaster Area
September 20, 2017
Hurricane Maria has left devastation that defies description in its wake, leaving the entire island of Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million inhabitants without power.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello has already asked President Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to additional federal aid. On Twitter, he urged people to have faith:
We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.
The president had already signed an emergency declaration on Tuesday.
Maria made landfall at 6:35 a.m. EDT Wednesday near the town of Yabucoa, population 38,000, located about 30 miles south-southeast the territorial capital of San Juan on the northern shore. It is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.
The National Hurricane Center reports the storm has pushed off Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast, moving northwest at 12 mph. It is one of the most powerful tropical cyclones to ever be recorded making landfall on the island. It is among the top 10 most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever, as well.
Maria brought with it storm surge that raised coastal sea levels 6 to 9 feet, which coincided with a high tide that was rolling in. The deepest water occurred along the coastal areas closest to and just north and east of the landfall location, and was accompanied by large, destructive waves.Meanwhile, rainfall produced flash floods and deadly landslides before the storm came ashore. It is expected to dump up to 18 more inches of rain—with some areas seeing more than 25 inches—over the next 48 hours. Several tornadoes are expected to accompany the storm, as well.
The mayor of Catano on the island’s northern coast said as much as 80 percent of the buildings in one neighborhood were destroyed. In San Juan, the streets have become raging rivers, and in the northern town of Arecibo, an emergency medical center lost its roof.
As Maria moves away, several islands in the Lesser Antilles are beginning to get a sense of the damage they’ve incurred. So far, nine people have been reported killed by the storm.
Dominica, which bore much of the brunt two days ago, is still cut off from the rest of the world due to loss of communications. Ham radio operators are the only means of communication in and out of the mountainous island with a population of roughly 72,000, providing general reports of widespread flooding and many homes without roofs.
One operator, who rated the devastation around the capital city of Roseau as a “9” on a scale of 1 to 10, said “everything is down.”
The twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis, which has a relationship with the TruNews and Flowing Streams ministry, experienced Maria to a far greater degree than it did Hurricane Irma two weeks ago. But once again damage is expected to be relatively minor compared to much of the rest of the Caribbean.
The nation celebrated its independence Sunday with entire government gathering at a church for “prayer, praise and thanksgiving,” according to the local St. Kitts & Nevis Observer newspaper. Other celebrations and activities were postponed.
Prime Minister Timothy Harris also addressed the nation:
As Hurricane Maria approaches our federation, I implore you not to take our individual and collective safety and security for granted. Do all that is necessary to protect yourself, your families and your properties.
Let us also be mindful of the need to be our brother’s keeper. We must also look out for the interests of our vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly, our children and [people] with disabilities. Let us all offer up our nation to God.
May God keep His Divine Hand of Protection upon us.
Harris also called his nation to prayer prior to Hurricane Irma, and his nation was spared the brunt of that storm.
The latest forecast track has Maria skirting along the north of Hispaniola and the southern Bahamas as it makes a broad, sweeping turn toward the north. Only one of the more than three dozen computer models—and it isn’t among the most accurate—is predicting landfall anywhere in the southeastern U.S.
It is forecast to remain a major hurricane, meaning at last Category 3, through the weekend. By Monday morning, it is forecast to be midway between Bermuda and Jacksonville, Fla.
Meanwhile tropical Storm Jose is also moving north just off the U.S. East Coast near Long Island and Cape Cod, where it once again is doing a slow circular dance in the North Atlantic. If the current models are correct, the storm could get a dancing partner late next week.
When two tropical cyclones come within a few hundred miles of one another, they take part in what is called the Fujiwhara Effect, where they begin to rotate clockwise around each other. In most cases, and both of the most accurate models show this happening with Maria and Jose, one storm will absorb the other during this “dance.”
The remnants of Hurricane Lee remain in the central Atlantic about halfway between Cabo Verde and the Lesser Antilles. This is the same area that produced both hurricanes Irma and Maria, and is likely to give the low pressure system a kickstart to reform into a cyclone.
The NHC currently puts the probability of cyclone formation at 60 percent in the next 48 hours, and 70 percent within the next five days. Expect that number to sharply increase before the next full forecast at 11 a.m.
The current forecast models for this system have not come to a consensus on where it might go once the cyclone forms. Current wind streams suggest it will be pulled at least in the short term closer to the Caribbean.