Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Maria roared ashore in Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm, thrashing the U.S. territory with life-threatening winds. Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico since 1928, had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph as it made landfall near the southeastern town of Yabucoa, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is expected to bring up to 16 inches of rain to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and up to 25 inches to Puerto Rico, causing potentially deadly flash floods and mudslides. The islands could also see several tornadoes throughout Wednesday. Maria was a Category 5 hurricane — the strongest there is — when it killed one person and injured two others as it hit the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe on Monday night. Widespread devastation was also reported on Dominica. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters Tuesday that Maria "promises to be much more devastating" than was Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 70 people as it plowed through the Caribbean and the southeastern United States earlier this month. "If you are in a flood zone, your life is in danger," Rosselló said. "If you are in a wooden house, your life is in danger." Related: Struggling After Irma, Islanders Lament Round Two More than 10,000 islanders were in shelters early Monday, Rosselló said, as thousands of others scrambled to evacuate. President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency in both territories, and the Coast Guard has moved all its ships, aircraft and personnel out of harm's way so they can quickly launch rescue missions once the storm passes, officials said. Hurricane warnings also went up in the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata. Maria was expected to skirt just north of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night and Thursday, according to forecasters. The last time the region was threatened by a storm this powerful was in 1928, when the Okeechobee Hurricane roared through the Virgin Islands and slammed Puerto Rico. It killed more than 300 people there and left a trail of destruction from one end of the island to the other before heading on to Florida. In the end, it wound up being one of the deadliest hurricanes on record to hit North America, killing more than 4,000 people — most of them poor black residents who lived near Lake Okeechobee in South Florida and whose bodies were buried in mass graves. This is a developing story. Please refresh for updates.
Utne Altwire: science



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