GOES-16 satellite image of Hurricane Maria just before sunset, at 5:17 pm EDT Monday, 18 September 2017. Photo: NOAA / RAMMB

Dr. Jeff Masters
18 September 2017

(Weather Underground) – Category 5 Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the small Lesser Antilles island of Dominica (population 72,000) near 9 pm EDT Monday, becoming Dominica’s first Category 5 landfall on record. At the time of landfall, an Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft measured surface winds of 160 mph and a central pressure of 924 mb. Maria likely did catastrophic damage to Dominica.

Heavy rain squalls and rising winds were being observed late Monday afternoon at Melville Hall Airport on Dominica, which measured sustained winds at 31 mph, gusting to 48 mph, at 6 pm EDT Monday. That station then went off-line, as did Canefield Airport, an hour later. A personal weather station on the northwest end of the island stopped transmitting as of 9:50 pm EDT Monday, after measuring a pressure of 986 mb. Satellite loops and radar out of Martinique and Barbados clearly show Maria’s small, 9-mile diameter eye, surrounded by a daunting array of spiral bands with heavy thunderstorms, Maria’s hurricane-force winds were confined to a relatively narrow 40-mile diameter region around the hurricane’s small eye, but the tropical storm-force wind area was 230 miles in diameter.

Maria put on an incredible display of rapid intensification on Monday, going from a low-end Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds and a pressure of 982 mb at 0Z Monday, to a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds and a 925 mb pressure 24 hours later. There have now been two Atlantic Category 5 storms in 2017: Maria and Irma. The Atlantic has had only five other years on record with multiple Cat 5s: Dean and Felix in 2007; Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005; Carla and Hattie in 1961; and two Cat 5s each in 1932 and 1933. [more]

Category 5 Hurricane Maria Hits Dominica


By  Danny Boyle
19 September 2017

(The Telegraph) – Hurricane Maria has "devastated" the Caribbean island of Dominica, as the second major Atlantic storm this month barrels towards Puerto Rico and the British and US Virgin Islands.

The hurricane has strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" Category Five, with "potentially catastrophic" storm surges. It made landfall with roof-ripping top winds swirling at 160mph on Monday night.

"We have lost all what money can buy and replace," Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote on Facebook, saying there were reports of "widespread devastation". The extent of the damage remained unclear on Tuesday afternoon, with communication lines still down.

Dangerous storm surges, destructive waves, flash floods, and mudslides also threaten the Leeward Islands - the island group that includes Martinique, Puerto Rico, and the US and British Virgin islands - as Maria tracked northwest.

Analysis by the National Hurricane Centre suggests the "dangerous" core of Hurricane Maria will hit St Croix - one of the US Virgin Islands - late on Tuesday, with storm surges set to strike the nearby British Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico is braced for a possible direct hit on Wednesday - "with a force and violence" the island has not "seen for several generations" - before Maria moves towards the Dominican Republic overnight into Thursday morning and then towards the south-east Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands into the weekend.

The storm is moving along roughly the same path as Hurricane Irma, which devastated several islands and parts of Florida earlier this month.

A series of Facebook posts by Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit captured the fury of the storm as it made landfall on the mountainous island late on Monday.

"We have lost all what money can buy", he wrote at the start of a series of increasingly harrowing posts. "The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God."

Mr Skerrit revealed that his roof had been blown off, his house was flooding and he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane", adding: "Rough! Rough! Rough!"

Seven minutes later, Mr Skerrit posted that he had been rescued. He later called the damage "devastating" and "mind boggling". [more]

Hurricane Maria: Dominica 'devastated' as storm heads to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

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