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SPECIAL REPORT: Hurricane Maria

September 19, 2017 – The Caribbean

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.

(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

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

© 2018 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.

© 2018 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.

© 2018 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.

- latitude / john

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