September 19, 2017

SPECIAL REPORT: Hurricane Maria

Still reeling from Hurricane Irma, the Eastern Caribbean is now getting battered, again, by Hurricane Maria. Last night the eye of Maria passed over Dominica as a Category 5 storm with winds of up to 160 mph, and even higher gusts. Maria is now angling northwest towards Montserrat, the Virgin Islands — with St. Croix in the most danger — and then on to Puerto Rico.

The Virgin Islands were literally stripped bare last week by the near-200-mph winds of Hurricane Irma. 

© NASA

Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica was rescued from his flooded home while saying the island had "lost all that money can buy." He added, "My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains." While the extreme winds of hurricanes often grab headlines, it’s often the torrential rain inundating steep hillsides that causes the worst damage.

Hurricane Maria’s path is to the south of most of the Virgin Islands, but still dangerous. St. Croix in the USVI and Puerto Rico are likely to face more severe consequences.

© 2017 NOAA

Dominica has a population of 72,000, and, while not home to large charter fleets, the island is a popular stop for Caribbean cruisers. While Dominica and Guadeloupe assess storm damage, Maria marches on and is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico tonight. That island only received a glancing blow from Irma, but still sustained a billion dollars worth of damage, and still has widespread power outages, according to Bloomberg — a hefty price tag for a bankrupt territory. 

Right now the BVI, USVI and Puerto Rico are battening down the hatches with curfews in place and relief efforts suspended in many Irma-hit islands. Storm tracks show the storm bending north, away from Florida, but crossing the Turks and Caicos, which were also recently devastated by Irma.

The island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Island chain took a beating from Irma last week.

© 2017 Scott Sutherland

Once again, we’re thinking of all the people in the path of these storms and hoping support and relief will follow shortly.

There’s no point in mourning the "good old days" of the St. Francis Yacht Club Big Boat Series — you know, when the boats were really big, with lots of 70-footers and such.
Acknowledging the adage that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, we’ll let the accompanying photo by Glenn Twitchell give the definitive answer to what’s so good about the Sea of Cortez.
Hurricane season is not ‘officially’ over until November 30, something we’re reminded of following the devastation of Harvey, Irma and tropical storms/hurricanes Jose, Katia, Lee and Maria.