San Juan prepares for Hurricane Maria. (Getty Images)
Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 storm at around 6:15 a.m. this morning, bringing 155 mile-per-hour winds to the coastal town of Yabucoa. As of 8 a.m., the storm was only 15 miles south-southwest of the capital city of San Juan. Puerto Rico has not experienced a storm of this magnitude since 1932, and the National Hurricane Center says Maria will be “an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation” for the island territory.
WATCH: Floodwaters rush through streets of Guyama, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria strikes the island (via Cruz Rodriguez Keila) pic.twitter.com/apJvSRibDV
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 20, 2017
The winds are so strong that the two radar systems in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hurricane Center have been knocked out:
— CNN Weather Center (@CNNweather) September 20, 2017
Maria is expected to tear through Puerto Rico before heading up to the Dominican Republic tonight. Earlier this week Maria devastated the tiny nation of Dominica, prompting the prime minister to report on Facebook, “Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace.” Nearby Guadeloupe was also battered, and experts noted that the storm intensified so quickly that neither island had much time to prepare for it—it went from a Category 3 to Category 5 storm overnight.
Weather experts say Maria could be even more dangerous and destructive than Hurricane Irma, which destroyed large swaths of the Caribbean earlier this month. The National Hurricane Center said that rain and storm surges—which could be as much as 18 inches and 9 feet, respectively—could render affected islands “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
“This is going to be an extremely violent phenomenon,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told the Associated Press this week. “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.”
— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan) September 19, 2017
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose—which was expected to cause some coastal flooding near New York City yesterday into today—has weakened to a tropical storm. Early this morning the storm was about 195 miles away from Nantucket, Massachusetts, and it is expected to weaken further as it moves over cooler waters up north.