MARIA: Devastating hurricane lashes St. Croix, eyes Puerto Rico

By News 13 Meteorologists, Digital Media Producers, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 11:08 PM EDT

The Atlantic is quite active right now with two storm systems, both hurricanes not expected to directly threaten Florida.

Maria

Hurricane Maria is still a "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 hurricane as of 11 p.m. ET Tuesday. Its maximum sustained winds were at 175 mph, signifying strengthening within the storm.

As of 11 p.m., it was about 30 miles southeast of St. Croix and moving west-northwest at 10 mph. 

On the current forecast track, the eye of Maria will approach the Virgin Islands overnight and Puerto Rico Wednesday.

A weakness in the Atlantic ridge is still expected to turn Maria to the northwest and then north by the end of the week and staying several hundred miles to Florida's east.

However, a close eye is still needed for this storm, but as of now, no direct impacts for Central Florida other than rough surf and higher swells arriving along the state's coastline late in the week. 

Hurricane Maria made landfall at about 9:33 p.m. Monday, in Dominica, the first Category 5 landfall on the island on record. It pounded the small island with catastrophic winds overnight, starting a charge into the eastern Caribbean that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma and holds the possibility of a direct hit on Puerto Rico overnight.

As rains began to lash Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rossello warned that Maria could hit "with a force and violence that we haven't seen for several generations." 

"We're going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico," Rossello said, adding that a likely island wide power outage and communication blackout could last for days. "We're going to have to rebuild."

Authorities warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm's expected arrival Wednesday.

"You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die," said Hector Pesquera, the island's public safety commissioner. "I don't know how to make this any clearer."

A hurricane warning is in effect for

  • St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques
  • Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata

A tropical storm warning is in effect for

  • Saba and St. Eustatius
  • St. Maarten
  • Anguilla
  • Guadeloupe
  • West of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti
  • West of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque

A hurricane watch is in effect for

  • Saba and St. Eustatius
  • St. Maarten
  • St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
  • Anguilla
  • Isla Saona to Cabo Engano
  • Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas

Jose

The storm closest to the United States is Jose, which was downgraded to a tropical storm. Its latest positioning is nearly 230 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Jose's track continues to stay well to Florida's northeast with no direct impacts to us aside from higher swells and hazardous seas for offshore boating.

As of 11 p.m., Jose was moving northeast at 9 mph and had 70 mph maximum sustained winds.

The center of Jose will stay out over the water, but southern New England and the coastal Tri-State area can anticipate the greatest effects and should monitor the storm closely; impacts from Jose will include wind and heavy rain, in addition to coastal erosion and hazardous ocean conditions.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for

  • Woods Hole to Sagamore Beach, including Cape Cod
  • Block Island
  • Martha's Vineyard
  • Nantucket

A tropical storm watch is in effect for

  • The coast of Long Island from Fire Island Inlet to Port Jefferson

The Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

News 13 Interactive StormTracker

The Associated Press contributed to this story.