With Hurricane Maria today becoming the 4th major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic season, one is tempted to ask if this sort of thing has happened before. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. 1961 saw no fewer than 7 CAT 3+ storms, as did 2005.
And before you ask, 1950 and 1933 both saw 6 major storms. That we know of, as this was before age of weather satellites.Meaning that as tired as we already are of this unrelenting hurricane season, with 9 weeks left to go, this year's threat is far from over. Currently in the cross hairs are the already hard hit northern Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, followed by Puerto Rico.
The eastern Bahamas are also in the path of this strengthening storm, which is expected to become a CAT 4 in the next 12 to 24 hours.
Although current models appear to keep the storm off the eastern seaboard of the United States, it is far too early to completely write off the threat to the mainland.So, if you haven’t already downloaded the updated Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide, and visited NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation Hurricane Preparedness Week 2017 web page, now would be an excellent time to do so.
When it comes to getting the latest information on hurricanes, your first stop should always be the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. These are the real experts, and the only ones you should rely on to track and forecast the storm.
If you are on Twitter, you should also follow @FEMA, @NHC_Atlantic, @NHC_Pacific and @ReadyGov.
This from the 11am Advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Maria Discussion Number 9
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL152017
1100 AM AST Mon Sep 18 2017
Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that Maria is undergoing rapid intensification. The aircraft reported 700-mb flight-level winds of 115 kt in the northeastern eyewall, along with reliable-looking surface wind estimates from the Stepped Frequency Microwave radiometer as high as 104 kt. In addition, the estimated central pressure inside the 10 n mi wide eye has fallen to 959 mb. The initial intensity is increased to 100 kt, making Maria a major category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. The small eye is also apparent in radar data from Martinique.
The initial motion is 285/9, a little to the left of the previous motion. Other than that, there is little change in either the forecast philosophy or the forecast track. A high pressure area to the north of Maria should maintain a general west-northwestward motion for the next three days or so. After that, the high weakens, which should allow the hurricane to turn gradually northwestward and north-northwestward. The new forecast track is changed little from the previous one, and it calls for Maria to move through the Leeward Islands in 12-24 h, approach the Virgin Islands in about 36 h, then cross Puerto Rico between 48-72 h. The new track lies to the left of the center of the guidance envelope in best agreement with the ECMWF.
Atmospheric and oceanic conditions appear favorable for additional rapid strengthening for the next 24 h and possibly longer. This is reflected in the intensity forecast, which now calls for Maria to become a category 4 hurricane in 12 h and reach a possibly conservative peak intensity of 130 kt in about 36 h.
From 72-120 h, land interaction and less favorable upper-level winds are expected to cause some weakening. On top of these general trends, there is also the possibility that eyewall replacement cycles could occur that would affect the intensity. However, Maria is likely to maintain category 3 to 4 intensity through the forecast period.
1. Maria will affect portions of the Leeward Islands and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands as an extremely dangerous major hurricane during the next couple of days, and hurricane warnings are in effect for many of these islands.
2. Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane watch is in effect for that island. A hurricane warning will likely be issued later today.
3. The potential for a life-threatening storm surge, accompanied by large and destructive waves, has increased for the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
4. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides from heavy rainfall are expected across the Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INIT 18/1500Z 14.7N 60.1W 105 KT 120 MPH
12H 19/0000Z 15.1N 61.2W 115 KT 130 MPH
24H 19/1200Z 15.9N 62.6W 125 KT 145 MPH
36H 20/0000Z 16.8N 64.1W 130 KT 150 MPH
48H 20/1200Z 17.6N 65.5W 130 KT 150 MPH
72H 21/1200Z 19.5N 68.5W 125 KT 145 MPH
96H 22/1200Z 21.5N 71.0W 120 KT 140 MPH
120H 23/1200Z 24.0N 72.5W 110 KT 125 MPH