Hurricanes Maria and Jose
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
On Tuesday, Maria was elevated to Category 5. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus called it “one of the fastest intensifying hurricanes in history with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH.”
Jose is minor by comparison, forecast to remain off the US northeast coast. At most “(m)inor to moderate coastal flooding is possible from Delaware to southern New England during the next several days,” according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), its maximum sustained winds at around 75 MPH.
Maria is hugely dangerous, the strongest ever storm to hit Dominica, devastating the island, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit saying:
“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”
“(W)inds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside.”
“The winds are merciless, (causing) mind-boggling” devastation. “We shall survive by the grace of God…Rough! Rough! Rough!,” he added.
According to the NHC, areas likely to be affected include Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques.
It’s too soon to know if and where it may strike the US mainland. Affected areas face “life-threatening storm surge (conditions), accompanied by large and destructive waves, (creating hugely dangerous) flash floods and mudslides from heavy rainfall,” according to the NHC.
Maria is expected to remain at Category 4 or 5 strength as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Its eye passed directly over Dominica.
Puerto Rico’s public safety commissioner Hector Pesquera warned residents “(y)ou have to evacuate” to a safe shelter before Wednesday when Maria is expected to make landfall. “Otherwise, you’re going to die. I don’t know how to make this any clearer.”
It’s developing a “pinhole eye,” indicating a very intense, compact, devastating storm, Puerto Rico directly in its path.
Hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy explained this phenomenon means a strong hurricane will get stronger. He compared it to an ice skater, spinning increasingly faster. “You just don’t see those in weaker hurricanes,” he said.
Maria is expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain across affected areas. On Tuesday, US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp warned of “a very, very long night” ahead.
The Atlantic hurricane season averages 12 storms annually. This year it’s been 13 so far. For the first time on record, two Category 4 storms struck the continental US in the same year – three if Maria hits the east coast at current strength, possibly based on its current trajectory.
Hurricane Harvey produced nearly 52 inches of rain in Cedar Bayou, TX, the most ever recorded in America from a major storm – 48 inches the old record from tropical storm Claudette in 1979. Hawaii’s record rainfall was 52 inches.
Astonishingly, Hurricane Irma generated more Accumulated Cyclone Energy than any previous major Atlantic storm on record – more than this year’s first eight storms combined, including Hurricane Harvey.
A few weeks remain in this year’s hurricane season. Meteorologists expect them to be less active than what’s gone on so far – after Maria and Jose dissipate.
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