Nearly as soon as I provided the latest update on Hurricane Maria, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a potentially catastrophic category five hurricane.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 19, 2017
The storm is currently located at a latitude of 15.3N and a longitude of 61.1W, or approximately 15 miles (25 km) east/southeast of Dominica. Sint Maarten/Saint Martin remains under a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning.
Here’s the full text of the 8 pm AST update from the NHC:
Hurricane Maria Special Advisory Number 11
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL152017
800 PM AST Mon Sep 18 2017
…MARIA BECOMES A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE…
…THE EYE AND THE INTENSE INNER CORE IS NEARING DOMINICA…
SUMMARY OF 800 PM AST…0000 UTC…INFORMATION
ABOUT 15 MI…25 KM ESE OF DOMINICA
ABOUT 40 MI…70 KM N OF MARTINIQUE
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…160 MPH…260 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 9 MPH…15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…925 MB…27.32 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
The government of France has changed the Hurricane Warning to a
Tropical Storm Warning for Martique.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Antigua and Barbuda
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Lucia
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
* Isla Saona to Puerto Plata
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* St. Vincent and the Grenadines
* West of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic-Haiti
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and
property should be rushed to completion.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible
within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours
before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force
winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
Interests elsewhere in Hispaniola should monitor the progress of
this system. Additional watches and warnings may be required later
tonight or on Tuesday.
For storm information specific to your area in the United
States, including possible inland watches and warnings, please
monitor products issued by your local National Weather Service
forecast office. For storm information specific to your area outside
the United States, please monitor products issued by your national
DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
At 800 PM AST (0000 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Maria was located
near latitude 15.3 North, longitude 61.1 West. Maria is moving
toward the west-northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general
motion is expected to continue through Wednesday. On the forecast
track, the core of Maria will move near Dominica and the adjacent
Leeward Islands during the next few hours, over the extreme
northeastern Caribbean Sea the remainder of tonight and Tuesday, and
approach Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and
Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph (260 km/h) with higher
gusts. Maria is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale. Some additional strengthening is possible
tonight, but some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the
next day or two.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the
center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles
The estimated minimum central pressure based on Air Force Hurricane
Hunter data is 925 mb (27.32 inches).
HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
WIND: Hurricane conditions should be spreading across Dominica,
Guadeloupe, and Martinique during the next few hours, with tropical
storm conditions already occurring over portions of the Leeward
Islands. Hurricane conditions should spread through the remainder
of the hurricane warning area tonight through Wednesday. Hurricane
conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area Tuesday
through Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions possible
tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical
storm watch area in St. Vincent and the Grenadines through tonight,
and are possible in the tropical storm watch area in the Dominican
Republic on Wednesday.
Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains
are often up to 30 percent stronger than the near-surface
winds indicated in this advisory, and in some elevated locations
could be even greater.
STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and
destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet
above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area near where
the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands and the
British Virgin Islands.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause
normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters
moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to reach
the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the
time of high tide…
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands…6 to 9 ft
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to
the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be
accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related
flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal
cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information
specific to your area, please see products issued by your local
National Weather Service forecast office.
RAINFALL: Maria is expected to produce the following rain
accumulations through Thursday:
Central and southern Leeward Islands…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20
U.S. and British Virgin Islands…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20
Puerto Rico…12 to 18 inches, isolated 25 inches.
Northern Leeward Islands from Barbuda to Anguilla…4 to 8 inches,
isolated 10 inches.
Windward Islands and Barbados…2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches.
Eastern Dominican Republic…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.
Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash
floods and mudslides.
SURF: Swells generated by Maria are affecting the Lesser Antilles.
These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip
current conditions. Please consult products from your local