Hurricane Maria makes landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm

Posted September 21, 2017

POINTE-A-PITRE: Hurricane Maria battered the Caribbean island of Dominica yesterday, with its prime minister predicting potentially grave losses and mass destruction as winds and rain from the Category 5 storm barrelled into territories still reeling from Irma.

Hurricane Maria has intensified into an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale and is expected to strengthen further, the US National Hurricane Centre says.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Maria had regained strength, with sustained winds of up to 160mph, as it approached the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Data from San Juan's radar - before it went down - and observations from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft showed that the outer eye wall was now dominant and had increased from 10 nautical miles to 30.

Maria is expected to have winds equivalent to a Category 3 storm by the time it reaches San Juan, the National Weather Service said.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say, "Be careful, our hearts are with you".

But amateur radio operators on the island, home to 72,000 people, have been able to get word out about Maria's impact - with some reporting downed trees and roofs of homes blown off.

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Hurricane Maria is the latest powerful storm of the hurricane season.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello told NPR that the territory has opened 500 shelter and is expecting "severe devastation".

"We were asking him to have more resources in terms of electrical teams that can help us out to solve the situation and recover the infrastructure of the power grid on the island".

"It's going to come down again", he said.

Maria brushed by the French island of Martinique on Tuesday, leaving most of the island unscathed.

Boquette and her children moved inland to a friend's home 11 miles off the coast from their coastal home in Condado, where they also road out Irma. In his last message, he made an appeal for worldwide aid, writing: "We will need help, my friends, we will need help of all kinds".