TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hurricane Maria’s wind speed is down to 110 mph as the storm moves offshore of Puerto Rico, but the Category 2 storm is expected to re-intensify.
“With land interaction, the storm has weakened. It is the center that has moved off the northern side of Puerto Rico, but it has been interacting with land all day. The winds are now at 110 mph, down significantly from that landfall speed, moving northwest at 12 miles per hour on that forecast track,” said Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Steve Jerve.
“The forecast track could possibly re-strengthen back into a Category 3 storm, a major hurricane, but the forecast track curves it further away from the U.S., obviously well clear of the state of Florida, so minimal effect. Probably higher seas east coast of Florida.”
As of 11 p.m., The National Hurricane Center confirmed the hurricane is moving away from Puerto Rico, but torrential rains continue on the island. Weather conditions are deteriorating over the eastern Dominican Republic and will start to worsen soon in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“The forecast track will continue to take it northwest of Puerto Rico, very close to the northern part of the Dominican Republic,” added Steve.
Maria is 55 miles northeast of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and 260 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island.
Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm at 6:14 a.m. in Yabucoa, PR with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. It’s the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 85 years.
San Felipe Hurricane of 1928 was 160 mph. First Category 4 to make there landfall there since 1932.
Puerto Rico faces what officials say could be the strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. territory as they warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
Hurricane Maria is expected to stay away from the east coast of the United States.
Here are a summary of watches and warnings in effect for Hurricane Maria
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti
- Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:
- Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano
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