Hurricane Maria is a very dangerous Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph 280 km/h 152 knots. It has a central pressure of 909 millibars (mb). This is more intense than Hurricane Irma in terms of central pressure. Maria is now the top 10 most intense Atlantic hurricane known. I mean known as records go back to 1851.
Top 10 Most Intense Hurricane By Central Pressure
1.) Wilma 2005 882 mb
2.) Gilbert 1988 888mb
3.) Labor Day 1935 892 mb
4.) Rita 2005 895 mb
5.) Allen 1980 899 mb
6.) Camille 1969 900 mb
7.) Katrina 2005 902 mb
8.) Mitch 1998/Dean 2007 905 mb
9.) Maria 2017 909 mb
10.) Cuba 1932/Ivan 2004 910 mb
Wilma is the most intense hurricane to date. It ravaged Yucatan Peninsula and Florida. Gilbert and Rita caused a huge scare for Texas. Gilbert hit Jamaica, Yucatan Peninsula, and Mexico’s Gulf Coast. Rita hit east of Houston area in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana. Labor Day 1935 Hurricane likely had low central pressure. Allen made landfall on South Texas. Camille and Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in the same area. Katrina was larger as it produced higher storm surge in Mississippi and flooded out New Orleans. Mitch killed 22,000 from heavy rain and massive flooding in Central America. Mitch is the deadliest hurricane after the Great Hurricane of 1780, which claimed 30,000 lives. Dean hit Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico. Cuba 1932 is Cuba’s deadliest hurricane to this day. Ivan ravaged the the Caribbean before making landfall on Alabama and Florida. Ivan came back again and made landfall as a tropical storm on Texas/Louisiana border. That being said, Maria is getting ever so closer to St. Croix and Puerto Rico.
Doppler radar image out of Puerto Rico shows a formidable Hurricane Maria. Not often we see a Category 5 hurricane on ground based Doppler radar. It has a near prefect circular eye. The infrared satellite image of Hurricane Maria is very impressive and scary. It is going to be a rough night for St. Croix.
St. Croix is experiencing tropical storm force winds. Hurricane force winds should be later tonight for St.Croix. Puerto Rico should feel tropical storm force winds later tonight. Hurricane force wind comes early tomorrow morning. Hurricane force winds are up to 104 miles 166 km 90 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. Tropical storm force winds are are up to 276 miles 442 km 240 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. It has gotten larger from yesterday. The speed Maria is moving at, 10 mph 16 km/h 8.7 knots, tropical storm force winds could last up to nearly 28 hours, while hurricane force winds could last up to 10 hours. This prolonged wind could do a lot of damage for Puerto Rico and St. Croix.
Here is the heat map forecast from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Maria up close with Puerto Rico.
It does not look good for Puerto Rico. Most of the forecast models have Maria making landfall and going over Puerto Rico. The intensity as it is is very concerning. I would not be surprised if Maria intensifies further right before it gets close to Puerto Rico later tonight. This is a very bad for Puerto Rico. If Hurricane Maria makes landfall as a Category 5 on Puerto Rico, it will be the first since 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane. On September 13, 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph 256 km/h 139 knots. The gusts are as high as 240 mph 384 km/h 209 knots. It had a central pressure of 929 millibars. It was very likely the central pressure was lower and stronger. The hurricane was large as it ravaged Puerto Rico. The hurricane claimed 312 lives in Puerto Rico, while 1,200 lives were lost at Guadeloupe. The Okeechobee Hurricane made landfall near West Palm Beach as a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph 232 km/h 126 knots on September 17, 1928. The highest wind on land would be around 123 mph 200 km/h 107 knots with gusts as high as 185 mph 296 km/h 161 knots. The hurricane stayed over Florida and claimed at least 2,500 lives and likely more. The Okeechobee Hurricane claimed more than 4,000 lives. The death toll is likely much higher. It is America’s deadliest hurricane since 1900 Galveston Hurricane that claimed 12,000 lives. In fact, Okeechobee Hurricane is the deadliest American disaster prior to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Once Maria passes Puerto Rico, where does it go?. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Maria. The GFS goes up to 10 days.
The forecast models have a westward trend from 24 hours ago. Dominican Republic and Bahamas could feel the impact of Maria. There is also a possibility that Maria could affect North Carolina and the Eastern Seaboard. That would be too early to tell at this time. This is on top of how strong Maria will be.
Most of the forecast models have Maria weakening after it passes Puerto Rico. One model has Maria intensifying back to a Category 5 hurricane in three days. Intensity forecast are notoriously difficult to forecast. All the forecast models are subject to change.
Here is what I think will happen.
-Maria could pose a major threat to Puerto Rico.
-Maria will likely impact Dominican Republic.
This is going to be very bad for Puerto Rico and St. Croix. I fear the damage will be epic and the death toll could be high. This comes at a bad time as Puerto Rico is mired in a serious financial crisis. This could make recovery difficult for Puerto Rico. I cannot imagine what it will be like during Hurricane Maria.