Evacuation orders issued for Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria closes in


Evacuation orders issued for Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria closes in

While Puerto Rico and the USA and British Virgin Islands are expected to take the hardest blows, the eye is expected to move through the Leeward Islands this evening.

Maria could make a direct hit on Puerto Rico, which was spared the full brunt of Irma although much of the island had its power knocked out. "Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes". Hurricane force winds could last more than a day.

Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a unsafe major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the northeastern Caribbean Sea. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Lucia.

Forecasters predict that unlike Irma, Maria will have a sharper northwest trajectory, passing through the center of Puerto Rico by Wednesday then east of the Turks and Caicos islands.

This storm is rapidly intensifying which is a troubling scenario for the islands it will sweep across. Maria is an extremely unsafe category 4 hurricane.

The US Coast Guard at 8 p.m. Sunday set Port Condition X-Ray for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Maria could dump 6 to 12 inches of rain across the Leeward Islands - including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands - through Wednesday night. Islands in the storm's path suffered widespread devastation.

On Monday morning, Puerto Rico's emergency officials were meeting to plan their response to Maria.

Farther north, long-lived Hurricane Jose continued to head northward off the U.S. East Coast, causing unsafe surf and rip currents.

The tropical storm watch was upgraded to a warning for coastal Rhode Island and eastern MA, the areas most likely to be substantially impacted by Jose.

A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the first occurrence of tropical storm-force winds while watches are issued 48 hours in advance.

Jose was centered about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph).

The worst conditions are likely from eastern Long Island to eastern MA on Wednesday when these areas may get battered by the combination of heavy rain, damaging wind gusts to hurricane-force, and coastal flooding. Moderate coastal flooding is expected with water rising up to one to three feet above normally dry land at high tide.

Irrespective of its track, unsafe surf and rip currents are expected along the East Coast through much of the week.