Hurricane Maria grows on Irma’s path
WASHINGTON – Agence France-PresseMaria was forecast Sept. 17 to surge to major hurricane strength as it nears the storm-battered eastern Caribbean with 140 kilometer per hour winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, on a path similar to that of mega storm Irma earlier in the month.
Storm warnings and watches went up in many of the Caribbean islands still reeling from Irma’s destructive passage.
As of early yesterday, Maria was a Category One hurricane, the lowest on the five point Saffir-Simpson scale, located 165 kilometers northeast of Barbados while bearing west-northwest at 20 kilometers an hour, the NHC said.
“On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands Sept. 18 night and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Set. 19,” it said. “Rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands,” the NHC warned.
Hurricane warnings were triggered for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.
Less urgent “watches” were issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands where at least nine people were killed during Irma; French-Dutch island St Martin where 15 people died; Saba and St Eustatius; St Barthelemy and Anguilla.