Puerto Rico had a nasty wake-up call from Hurricane Maria this morning.
The eyewall of Hurricane Maria, which is now a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, moved onshore near the southeast coastal city of Yabucoa around 6:15 a.m.—and the hurricane could not be a more direct hit, said meteorologists. It is the strongest hurricane to directly hit Puerto Rico since 1932, with life-threatening winds, rain, and storm surge. Earlier, residents were told to evacuate or else “you’re going to die.”
It will be a while before television cameras show the final damage and impact caused by Hurricane Maria, but social media accounts are already showing some terrifying images of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, including roofs peeling off in San Juan and floodwaters rushing through streets.
Flooding is already occurring on the island and more is expected, say meteorologists. River gauges across the country are spiking at tremendous levels—and the rain is nowhere near finished. (Flooding is much more dangerous than a hurricane’s winds.)
Maria’s current projected path indicates the storm will bypass the eastern seaboard of the U.S. mainland. It’s still a tremendously powerful hurricane, though. Dominica’s governor said it left “mind boggling” damage on that Caribbean island. As of Wednesday morning, nine people had died on Dominica because of the storm.
Hurricane experts note that while the mountains of Puerto Rico will temper the storm somewhat, Maria is expected to restrengthen after passing the island due to warm sea surface temperatures.