Monday, 18 September 2017

Caribbean islands waits for hurricane

Caribbean islands brace again as storm strengthens to Hurricane Maria

Tropical Storm Maria has developed into a hurricane as the Caribbean's Leeward Islands prepare for impact. It is expected to strengthen and bring dangerous winds, rain and storm surges to other, already damaged islands.

he Caribbean's Leeward Islands braced for another disaster as Tropical Storm Maria developed into a hurricane and is expected to strengthen as it moves towards islands hit by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks ago, the US National Hurricane Center said Sunday.

Forecasters said Maria would likely hit a string of islands on Monday night, including St. Barts, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Antigua and Barbuda. "Maria is likely to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid week as a dangerous major hurricane," the NHC said.

Maria is now a category one hurricane, the lowest on the scale of five, located 225 kilometers (140 miles) east of Barbados, with maximum sustained winds of 120 kmh (75 mph).

"Maria has strengthened to a hurricane and could be near major hurricane intensity which it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards," the hurricane center advised on Sunday.

The hurricane is expected to produce storm surges of up to 2 meters (6 feet) and dump 15-30 centimeters (6-12 inches) of rain across the Leeward Islands, as well as Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands through Wednesday night.

Maria comes less than two weeks after Irma, a category 4 hurricane, swept through the Caribbean, killing more than 80 people and causing massive destruction before pounding the US state of Florida. it is one of three storms moving through the Atlantic Ocean but it poses the most danger to already-damaged Caribbean islands.

Elsewhere, Hurricane Jose remained far off the US Atlantic coast and was forecast to avoid hitting the mainland.

cw/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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