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Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico may be without electricity for months after Hurricane Maria

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Updated September 21, 2017 10:14 AM EDT

Officials in Puerto Rico on Thursday said millions of people in the U.S. territory may lack electricity for up to half a year following Hurricane Maria striking there.

"The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there," Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told MSNBC. "We're looking at four to six months without electricity."

Yennifer Alvarez Jaimes, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello's press secretary, on Thursday said that all power across the island of roughly 3.5 million people had been knocked out.

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"Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this," Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

The White House on Thursday announced that President Trump has approved a federal diaster declaration for Puerto Rico after Maria, which is the strongest hurricane to hit the island in about 90 years.

Updated September 21, 2017 06:51 AM EDT

Hurricane Maria slammed into the northeastern Dominican Republic early Thursday and is predicted to batter the Turks and Caicos later in the day.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that some strengthening is possible in the next day or so, meaning Maria's power could grow as it moves northwest.

These are the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history
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Maria was a Category 3 hurricane Thursday morning, wielding maximum sustained winds near 115 mph while centered about 70 miles north of Punta Cana, Domincan Republic.

The storm is moving northwest at approximately 9 mph, and it had killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean Sea as it continued ravaging the region Thursday.

Maria battered the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico the day before, causing flooding and landslides on the island as it emerged as the strongest hurricane to hit there in 80 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated September 20, 2017 09:11 PM EDT

The core of Hurricane Maria is gradually moving away from the northwestern coast of Puerto Rico and conditions have already started deteriorating in the Dominican Republic, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Although strong winds and storm surge flooding are expected to subside early Thursday, the NHC said heavy rainfall is expected to continue.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas.

Updated September 20, 2017 05:03 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria has weakened to a Category 2 storm, but could gain major hurricane status by Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The storm has already caused "catastrophic flash flooding" in parts of Puerto Rico.

It's currently moving northwest at 12 mph and is located about 75 miles east of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Updated September 20, 2017 05:03 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria weakened to a Category 3 storm Wednesday afternoon, but is still lashing the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

The powerful storm is packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is currently located about 15 miles east of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

The powerful storm took down power lines, snapped trees and tore off roofs on the island of Puerto Rico. At least 9 deaths across the Caribbean have been attributed to Hurricane Maria.

Updated September 20, 2017 01:46 PM EDT

All of Puerto Rico was without power Wednesday afternoon as Hurricane Maria battered the U.S. territory, officials said.

"We are 100% without power," Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's governor said, according to CNN on Wednesday. "This is total devastation"

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Maria had severely damaged the island's infrastructure. He told the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia in a telephone interview streamed live on Facebook that rivers were overflowing, trees and fallen and windows had shattered.

Hurricane Maria has killed seven people on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, according to Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Updated September 20, 2017 11:32 AM EDT

Hurricane Maria brought "life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall" to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned of flash floods and mudslides.

Maria carried maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, and the NHC noted that "wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains and on high-rise buildings could be much stronger."

Puerto Rico was expected to receive 12 to 18 inches of rain, and as much as 25 inches in some areas. Waters were expected to rise as much as six to nine feet above ground.

"The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline," the NHC said.

Tornadoes are possible Tuesday in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Updated September 20, 2017 10:18 AM EDT

A Flash Flood Emergency is in place along the Rio La Plata basin as Hurricane Maria moves over northern Puerto Rico.

"This is a FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY," the National Weather Service (NWS) warned. "This is a PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!"

The NWS also urged people not to attempt to travel "unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order."

Hurricane Maria is carrying maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour as it moves northwest at 13 mph.

It is centered about 20 miles west of San Juan and about 20 miles east-southeast of Arecibo.

Updated September 20, 2017 07:14 AM EDT

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday morning along Puerto Rico's southeast coast as a Category 4 storm.

Officials said that Maria could be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S. territory, with many warning it could lead to massive power outages and the rebuilding of dozens of communities.

"This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon," Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. "We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history."

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said that Maria was centered early Wednesday about 50 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico and moving northwest at 10 mph.

Forecasters noted that Maria was barreling past the island with 155 mph winds and could punish the region with life-threatening gales for 12 to 24 hours.

Maria was previously a Category 5 hurricane with 175 mph winds, and it ties for the eight strongest storm in Atlantic Ocean history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated September 19, 2017 10:22 PM EDT

The eye of Hurricane Maria is closing in on St. Croix, which is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Category 5 storm continues to gain strength and is now packing maximum sustained winds of 175 mph as it comes within 60 miles of the St. Croix, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are expected to spread into the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Tuesday night.

Ahead of the storm, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló warned Maria could hit "with a force and violence that we haven't seen for several generations."

"We're going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico," Rossello added.

Authorities there have warned people who live in wooden or flimsy homes to seek shelter before the storm's expected arrival on Wednesday.

"You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die," said Hector Pesquera, the island's public safety commissioner. "I don't know how to make this any clearer."

Updated September 19, 2017 07:28 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria is still a Category 5 storm, but is expected to continue gaining strength as it barrels toward the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The storm, which is packing maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, is currently located about 80 miles southeast of St. Croix and is moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

If the storm stays on track, its eye will move over the U.S. Virgin Islands Tuesday night before hitting Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

"Slow weakening is expected after the hurricane emerges over the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic," the NHC noted.

Updated September 18, 2017 09:51 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria pounded the Caribbean island of Dominica Monday night and forecasters warned the storm could continue gaining strength.

Dominica authorities closed schools and government offices before the Category 5 storm made landfall.

If Maria continues on its projected path, on Tuesday the storm will likely hit areas already devastated by Hurricane Irma. The storm is expected to reach Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Updated September 18, 2017 08:05 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria has become a "potentially catastrophic" Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is currently located about 15 miles east-southeast of Dominica and is moving west-northwest at about 9 mph.

"Some additional strengthening is possible tonight, but some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two," according to the National Hurricane Center.

The center of Hurricane Jose is still expected to pass well to the east of the New Jersey coast on Wednesday.

Updated September 18, 2017 05:00 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.

The storm is currently 45 miles east-southeast of Dominica and the eye of its intense inner core is expected to pass near the island nation during the next few hours, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

A hurricane warning has been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques. A hurricane watch is in effect for Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, Anguilla, Isla Saona to Puerto Plata.

"A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area," according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Maria is expected to dump 12 to 18 inches of rain on Puerto Rico. Some areas could see up to 25 inches, the NHC said. The central and southern Leeward Islands, as well as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, could see 10 to 15 inches.

The NHC noted that Maria is expected to strengthen during the next 24 to 36 hours.

Updated September 18, 2017 01:52 PM EDT

Hurricane Maria continued to strengthen Monday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds increasing to nearly 125 mph.

Tropical storm conditions are expected soon in the Leeward Islands, with hurricane conditions expected by late Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Maria is centered about 45 miles east-northeast of Martinique and about 70 miles east-southeast of Dominica, and it is moving west-northwest at 10 mph.

Updated September 18, 2017 11:09 AM EDT

Hurricane Maria is rapidly intensifying and has become a Category 3 storm with 120 mph winds, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday.

"Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane as it moves through the Leeward Islands and the northeastern Caribbean Sea," the NHC said.

Maria is centered about 60 miles east of Martinique and about 95 miles east-southeast of Dominica. It is moving west-northwest at 10 mph as it bears down on the Leeward Islands.

Updated September 18, 2017 11:03 AM EDT

Hurricane Jose prompted a Tropical Storm Warning for a portion of southern New England on Tuesday, with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warning of "dangerous surf and rip currents."

The warning was issued for areas from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Hull, Massachusetts, including Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. The warning indicates that tropical storm conditions are expected in the area within the next 36 hours.

Jose is centered about 265 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 510 miles south of Nantucket. It boasts maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, and "little change in strength" is expected over the next 48 hours.

Updated September 18, 2017 08:22 AM EDT

Hurricane Maria is intensifying and its maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph with higher gusts, according to reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft.

Maria is currently a Category 2 hurricane.

"Additional rapid strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane before it moves through the Leeward Islands," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Monday.

As of 8 a.m. EST, Maria was centered about 85 miles east of Martinique and about 120 miles east-southeast of Dominica, and it was moving west-northwest at 12 mph.

Hurricane Maria is bearing down on Caribbean islands only beginning the process of recovering from Irma, and it is expected to become a "major hurricane" by Monday night or early Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a weakened Hurricane Jose continues to move northward in the Atlantic Ocean, threatening "dangerous surf and rip currents" along the U.S. East Coast. Tropical storm watches are in effect in areas from Delaware to Massachusetts.

Maria boasts maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches are in effect for much of the Caribbean as the storm approaches the Leeward Islands.

"Significant strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Maria is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane before it moves through the Leeward Islands," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Monday.

Maria was centered about 100 miles east of Martinique and about 130 miles east-southeast of Dominica as of 5 a.m. EST, and it was moving west-northwest near 13 mph. Its center is expected to move across the Leeward Islands late Monday and early Tuesday, then move over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea on Tuesday.

The NHC warned that the combination of a dangerous storm surge and "large and destructive waves" could raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet in the Leeward Islands. Significant rainfall is also expected.

"Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night," the NHC said.

Hurricane Jose's maximum sustained winds have decreased to 85 mph, with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is expected over the next few days, but Jose is expected to remain a hurricane through Tuesday.

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Jose is centered well off the East Coast, about 280 miles east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The storm is moving north at 9 mph.

"The center of Jose is forecast to pass well offshore of the Outer Banks of North Carolina today, pass well east of the Delmarva peninsula tonight and Tuesday, and pass well to the east of the New Jersey coast on Wednesday," the NHC said.

A third Atlantic storm, Tropical Depression Lee, is "poorly organized" and expected to become a remnant low by Monday night.

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