Published on : Friday, September 22, 2017
Hurricane Maria’s wrath was felt by the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday as the storm lashed through the Caribbean while still causing trouble on the battered US territory of Puerto Rico after its landfall two days earlier.
A gradual weakening of Maria is forecast over the next two days, but the Category 3 hurricane still is packing a punch as it passed northeast of the Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory of more than 52,000 people.
The storm knocked out power in Puerto Rico, an island of more than 3 million people, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said. And it could be months before the electricity returns.
Maria’s core will move away from the Turks and Caicos later Friday and will pass northeast and east of the Bahamas through Sunday, the center said.
A dangerous storm surge and large waves will raise water levels by as much as nine to 12 feet above normal tide in the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas, the center said.
Maria is producing winds of 125 mph (more than 200 kilometers per hour). Moving at 8 mph (13 kilometers per hour), it is 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Grand Turk island.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the central Bahamas.
In Turks and Caicos, eight to 16 inches are predicted for Saturday, with 20 inches in some places, and in Puerto Rico, an additional 3 to 6 inches is likely, with isolated maximum storm totals at 40 inches.
Heavy rains are also expected in parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas.
“Flash flooding continues in portions of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic due to persistent heavy rainfall from Maria’s trailing rain bands,” the hurricane center said.
Maria has weakened since devastating the island nation of Dominica and Puerto Rico earlier this week.
The giant storm’s death toll is beginning to mount. At least 15 people are confirmed dead on Dominica, and dozens more remain missing. In Puerto Rico, Maria left at least 13 dead, based on preliminary assessments, the island’s governor told CNN’s “New Day.”
Maria will move closer to the US East Coast and Bermuda by the middle of next week, “but it is too soon to determine, what, if any direct impacts there might be in these areas,” the hurricane center said in its 11 a.m. advisory.
Swells from the storm are expected to begin reaching the US Southeast coast Friday, the center said.
“These swells are likely to cause dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents along the coast for the next several days, even with Maria forecast to remain well offshore over the western Atlantic Ocean,” it said.
Parts of the Caribbean that Maria has already struck are just coming to terms with the extent of their losses.
Aid had been stockpiled before Hurricane Irma, the storm that recently preceded Maria, but it was distributed to neighboring islands after Dominica appeared to have avoided the worst of it. Then came Maria.
In Puerto Rico, every inch of the island was hammered when Maria made landfall Wednesday.
As many as 4,500 Army reservists have been brought in to complement the Puerto Rican National Guard, says Brig. Gen. Dustin Shultz, who is commanding the reserves in the Caribbean during rescue effort.
Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp of the US Virgin Islands is calling for “all hands on deck” as the territory expands recovery efforts after both Irma and Maria struck in less than two weeks.
President Donald Trump has pledged federal help for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.