Hurricane Maria a Dangerous Category 5 Heading Toward Puerto Rico

Posted at 5:23 AM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 23:19:24-04

8PM UPDATE: Hurricane Maria's winds are still at 175 mph. It is now 160 miles south east of San Juan, Puerto Rico and 60 miles south east of St. Croix in the in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Maria has is now one of the Top 10 most intense hurricanes base on lowest pressure.

UPDATE: Hurricane Maria's winds are now up to 175 mph.

5PM UPDATE: Hurricane Maria is moving WNW at 10 mph, winds are still at 165 mph. It is expected to directly hit Puerto Rico tonight with catastrophic storm surge and wind damage.

11AM UPDATE: Hurricane Maria is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph, and this general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday night. On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today, and then pass near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph (260 km/h) with higher gusts. Maria is a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane until it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).

8AM UPDATE: Hurricane Maria holding steady as a Category 5 with winds to 160 mph and gusts to 190 mph. Maria is currently centered about 170 miles SE of St. Croix, moving W/NW at 9 mph. This general motion is expected to continue through Wednesday, as Maria approaches Puerto Rico as a dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane. 

The next track update will be released at 11 AM. 


5 AM UPDATE: Hurricane Hunters found that Maria has restrengthened to a Category 5 storm with winds of 160 mph heading toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

Maria weakened to a Category 4 after making landfall on Dominica Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane. Fluctuations in strength between a Category 4 and 5 are expected as Maria continues its track W/NW at 9 mph toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and tomorrow. 

Hurricane-force winds extend 30 miles from Maria's center and Tropical Storm-force winds extend 125 miles from the center. 

At this point, potential impacts are looking more unlikely for the state of Florida as the current forecast track turns Maria north east of the Bahamas, but it is important to note that changes in track are still possible heading into the weekend. We will stay on it and keep you updated on any potential changes.