MIAMI, Florida, USA (sentinel.ht) – The tropical disturbance we warned readers about on Saturday has strengthened significantly and is now a category 3 hurricane. In the past hour, winds have topped a sustained 120 mph and this hurricane, named Maria, is expected to reach category 4 levels before the end of the day. The Haitian Meteorological Center has already raised the vigilance level to Yellow.
Maria is expected to make landfall in eastern Puerto Rico and continue its passage through the Greater Antilles; in the realm of possibility, direct impact in northern Haiti. The threat level of Yellow was issued at 9 AM, Monday morning, while the storm was still a category 2.
“Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane watch is in effect for that island,” the National Hurricane Center said Monday.
This storm is rapidly intensifying which is a troubling scenario for the islands it will sweep across. At 11 a.m. Monday, it was positioned 60 miles east of Martinique, plowing west-northwest at 10 mph. The Hurricane Center predicts it will reach Category 4 intensity late Monday or early Tuesday and may peak in intensity Wednesday when it is nearing St. Croix and Puerto Rico.
“Atmospheric and oceanic conditions appear favorable for additional rapid strengthening for the next 24 hours and possibly longer,” the Hurricane Center said.