Hurricane Maria Path Near St. Croix, Puerto Rico As Storm Is Category 5 With ‘Catastrophic Damage’ Possible

The latest Hurricane Maria update indicates the storm has reached Category 5 hurricane status, with the path giving the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico cause for concern. Warnings of possible “catastrophic damage” have been issued ahead of the storm hitting these areas. This comes after Hurricane Irma recently wreaked havoc in these areas as well as parts of Florida and nearby areas. Here are the latest details on where Hurricane Maria’s path is, as well as what areas are going to potentially experience major issues with regards to the storm.

On Tuesday, the Weather Channel reported that Hurricane Maria is “closing in” towards Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. On Monday evening, the storm hit Dominica, making for the island’s first-ever recorded Category 5 landfall there. A report from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter mission earlier today confirmed Maria remains at Category 5 status. The center of the storm was said to be 150 miles southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour. Expectations were also that the storm would reach Puerto Rico within the next 24 hours, but as far as hitting parts of the United States, it’s too early for forecasters to determine.

Hurricane Maria became strongest of three Atlantic Ocean storms

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, residents are already being warned about the possible “catastrophic damage” of Hurricane Maria from the storms severe winds. It’s also being said it could cause “devastating to catastrophic flooding” due to rainfall flooding. The National Weather Service issued a full hurricane statement for the areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s being said that “time is running out” for residents of these areas to prepare and with such limited time they should be “rushing” their preparations ahead of this severe weather situation. The National Weather Service also mentioned that “locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months” in the aforementioned areas.

The expectations are that tropical storm-force winds are going to hit the Virgin Islands fast and hurricane-force winds will arrive by Tuesday night. As of Wednesday morning, these hurricane-force winds will continue to wreak havoc with St. Croix the area that could be affected most at that time. The Virgin Islands could get 10 to 15 inches of rainfall and up to 20 inches locally.

Puerto Rico will also see tropical-force winds by Tuesday night. By early Wednesday they will be at hurricane-force and continued that way into Wednesday night. There could be as much as 12 to 18 inches of rainfall in the area, or as much as 25 inches in some spots by Thursday.

The Dominican Republic is more of a question mark as far as the storm path goes. If the eyewall of the storm changes direction just slightly it could mean intense winds stay away from the area. However, the north coast of Dominican Republic should still prepare for potential hurricane-force winds there as soon as Wednesday night.

So what about the United States? As of Tuesday, USA Today‘s AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller was saying Florida may avoid this particular storm. Hurricane Maria is arriving not long after parts of Florida were hit by Hurricane Irma. Miller is saying if Maria reaches the U.S. it won’t be until early next week, but it’s still too early to know what its path will be by then.

Miller indicated that the storm could be like another hurricane that was recently a possible danger for the United States but stayed away.

“We do look at a wide range of computer models and solutions. Its seems at this point that most likely track for Maria would be similar to Jose, staying off the coast but maybe close enough to clip the Outer Banks, maybe New England.”

Right now, Jose is at Category 1 status with winds of 75 miles per hour hitting areas of the New England coast including Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ coastline. If the Hurricane Maria path is similar to Jose, it would be relieving news for residents of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, still recovering from the damage and destruction brought by Hurricane Irma. Still, U.S. residents should stay aware of any weather alerts for their area as the storm moves this coming week into next.

For those who want to keep a close eye on the path of Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Jose, there is a YouTube live stream video above (via the Washington Post) to track the storms as they continue Tuesday.

[Featured Image by NASA/NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images]