By Kalendra Withana
Following the tragic outcome of Irma, a category five hurricane which killed 37 and produced damage worth billions of dollars, Hurricane Maria is now brewing in the winds.
Strengthening further and further, the storm is expected to pose a severe risk to the Caribbean islands and is confirmed to be travelling approximately down the same path as Irma did.
Gaining rapid winds on Monday Morning, Maria is reported to be travelling towards Puerto Rico. The country is expected to endure a landfall from Maria on Wednesday, and the hurricane itself is predicted to be at Category 4 this time.
In run-up to this event, Puerto Rico’s governor as declared a state of emergency for the country. Governor Ricardo Rosello said:
"Our call is for people to evacuate areas that are prone to floods and landslides, in addition to vulnerable structures,"
"It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend, or move to a state shelter because rescuers will not go out and risk their lives once winds reach 50 miles per hour”, he added.
As well as Puerto Rico, warnings have been issued for the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.
The National Hurricane Center confirmed that Maria’s winds have increased from 90 mph to 110 mph, within the short time frame of just three hours. This speed equates to 175 kilometres per hour.
The NHC had issued the statement:
"A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 1.5-2.1m (5-7ft) above normal tide levels near where the centre of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands".
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," it added.
Severe rainfall is also an added implication of Maria, with a maximum potential rainfall of 51cm being predicted for Puerto Rico and the British Virgin and US islands.
"Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," warns the NHC.
Sources – BBC News, CNN