What a month of disasters: Hurricane Harvey, Mexico earthquake (8.1), Hurricane Irma, Mexico earthquake (7.1) and now Hurricane Maria.

Maria hit St Croix and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, one day after the second earthquake took place.

Summary

Bob Henson of Weather Underground posted ‘Maria Slams St. Croix, Rips Across Puerto Rico’ early Wednesday morning.

Maria hit St Croix in the early morning hours (emphases mine below):

Maria raked the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix (population 50,000) with its outer eyewall on the strong (right front) side of the eye, between about 1 – 3 am EDT Wednesday morning, but the island missed seeing the Category 5 winds of the inner eyewall, which remained just offshore to the south. The highest winds officially observed on the island were at Cotton Valley RAWS, located on the east end of St. Croix: sustained at 99 mph, gusting to 136 mph, at 2:13 am EDT. A WeatherFlow station at Sandy Point, on the island’s southwest tip, observed sustained winds of 100-104 mph, gusting to 137 mph. Even stronger winds likely occurred somewhere across the island’s west end, but we don’t know how strong, since the wind measuring equipment at the St. Croix airport and the Lime Tree Bay Buoy failed.

According to the Quicklook page at NOAA’s Tides and Currents, Christiansted Harbor on the north side of St. Croix observed a storm surge of two feet. The pressure at a personal weather station on the southwest tip of St. Croix fell to 954 mb at 1:48 am, when the eye made its closest pass to the island.

Maria roared on to Puerto Rico, arriving a few hours later:

Ferocious Hurricane Maria made landfall around 6:15 am EDT Wednesday near Yabucoa in far southeast Puerto Rico as a top-end Category 4 storm, with peak sustained winds estimated at 155 mph

Maria did not hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, thanks to an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) that began on Tuesday night. The storm’s “pinhole” eye, less than 10 miles wide, was supplemented by an outer eyewall that contracted around the smaller one. The process helped lead to the slight weakening of Maria’s top winds, but it also likely broadened its core of winds topping 100 mph.

Dr Jeff Masters provided an update, ‘Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico’. Excerpts follow:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria brought extreme rainfall amounts to large portions of Puerto Rico that caused record or near-record flash flooding. Numerous stations in Puerto Rico recorded rainfall amounts in excess of ten inches. Rainfall amounts in excess of 47 inches in 24 hours were recorded at three stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico; these are so extreme as to be unbelievable, and the gauges may have been impacted by flash flooding, or by a calibration problem at extreme precipitaion rates …

The storm’s powerful winds caused catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, knocking out power to 100% of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents. In the Virgin Islands, there was also heavy damage on St. Croix, and serious flooding has been reported on St. Thomas …

Maria stayed over Puerto Rico for several hours:

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.

Maria previously ravaged other Caribbean islands. A picture caption at the top of Masters’s article reads:

Damage on the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Maria killed at least 7 people on Dominica, and 2 on neighboring Guadeloupe. Image from a video by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

Zero Hedge has a good article, with part of the title being a quote, ‘We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’ (emphasis in the original below):

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosello indicated this was life-changing:

We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.

Earlier, on Dominica and Guadeloupe (emphases mine):

“It is devastating, indeed, mind boggling,” Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister, said in a statement. The eastern Caribbean nation with a population of 75,000 has “lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said. Skerrit said he was rescued after the roof of his house was torn off by the storm.

At least six people have died on the island of Dominica, according to a spokeswoman for the government in London. “Damage is extensive throughout the island,” she said, “and people are walking the streets in a delirious state of mind.” With all lines of communication down, the government was relying on amateur radio, or ham radio, operators for updates, according to Bloomberg. In addition, at least two have been confirmed dead on the island of Guadeloupe.

Tell me there isn’t some sort of message in all this destruction.

Those of us living far away should pay attention and mend our ways, because this wrath is directed at all of mankind. I rarely write about storms, but the past few weeks have been phenomenal.

Maria in the record books

Henson reported that Maria is the record books:

Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.

  • In terms of top sustained wind, Maria is the fifth strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S. behind only the four Cat 5s to hit the country (Hurricane Andrew of 1992 in South Florida, Hurricane Camille of 1969 in Mississippi, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys, and the 1928 hurricane in Puerto Rico.)
  • In terms of lowest atmospheric pressure at landfall, Maria (917 mb) ranks third in U.S. records behind only the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Camille.
  • Maria’s landfall at Category 4 strength gives the U.S. a record three Category 4+ landfalls this year (Maria, Harvey, and Irma). The previous record was two such landfalls, set in 1992 (Cat 5 Andrew in Florida, and Cat 4 Iniki in Hawaii.)

Masters’s article added:

Maria is almost assured to be the most expensive hurricane in Puerto Rico history, and may challenge Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Irma (2 weeks ago) as the most expensive hurricane on record for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This was how the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane was reported by a Nebraska newspaper. Note ‘God’s Fury!’ above the map:

The hurricane wreaked havoc — tornadoes and severe rain — from South Dakota eastward to New York.

For anyone wondering, Puerto Rico was spelled that way in those days. The United States did not use ‘ue’ until 1948.

Financially devastating

The cost of clean-up, restoration and rebuilding of parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean — and Mexico — will be massive, crippling in some cases.

The Zero Hedge article said:

Maria could cause $30 billion in damage to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler for Enki Research. The island, which filed for bankruptcy in May after years of economic decline while a series of defaults, has been effectively shut out of capital markets, which could slow the recovery process, Bloomberg reports. Its aging government-owned electric utility operates under court protection from creditors and its emergency fund stood at about $32 million before Irma knocked out electricity access for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

Although President Donald Trump has been busy at the UN for the past two days, he has been keeping a close eye on developments:

Below, he says that what has happened in Puerto Rico is ‘very, very sad’ and that Maria has made it a very different island:

The mayor of San Juan agrees:

The Trump administration will get relief work started as soon as practicable. He will also be visiting the island, probably the first president to do so after a disaster:

Images of Maria and Puerto Rico

Near the end of this moving GIF, Maria’s eye looks just like the hurricane symbol. Now I understand why the symbol has that shape:

The wild gyration, Stu Ostro says, is unusual.

There was also low pressure in a new location:

This short video shows Maria as she moved through parts of Puerto Rico:

Much of the island has been hit by flooding, which continues — said to be ‘catastrophic’ on Thursday:

Maria is still a strong hurricane:

In fact:

And:

This is a photo of the ocean:

Power is out for everyone in Puerto Rico:

Power will be out for some time:

Wow:

The man interviewed below said that he has lived through hurricanes before, but nothing like Maria. He said that his friends felt the same way:

A curfew is in effect for the entire island for the next few days:

El Nuevo Dia has news on the devastation.

The forecast

Something out of this world is going on here, because:

On Thursday:

This is a possible path:

Here is a timeline:

In closing

(I think ‘chela’ above was meant to be ‘heal’.)

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