All of Puerto Rico was without electrical power by Wednesday afternoon, officials stated, just hours after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island as a Category 4 hurricane.
Puerto Rico Office of Emergency Management Agency verified that 100 percent of the U.S. territory has lost power, noting that anyone with electricity is making use of a generator.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello stated Maria has brought on severe damage to infrastructure. A Category 4 hurricane has not struck the island since 1932.
Rossello informed local newspaper El Nuevo Dia, which streamed the telephone interview live on Facebook, windows had shattered, rivers were overflowing and trees had fallen.
As of 2 p.m. ET, Maria had weakened to a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds down to 155 mph as the hurricane moved over Puerto Rico, based on the National Hurricane Center.
A weather station near Arecibo, some 43 miles from San Juan, documented a sustained wind of 71 mph and a wind gust of 91 mph on Wednesday morning.
“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the National Hurricane Center cautioned.
Hurricane Maria is 450 miles wide and hurricane-force winds expand up to 60 miles from its center.
Storm surge was forecasted to be 6 to 9 feet in coastal Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rainfall totals for Puerto Rico were forecasted at 12 to 18 inches, with as much as 35 inches in isolated areas.
Felix Delgado Montalvo, the mayor of Catano, some 7 miles southwest of San Juan, informed media on Wednesday there are hundreds of folks in shelters and over 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the communities of Juana Matos, La Puntilla and Puente Blanco. Most of the homes are flooded and are missing roofs or have collapsed walls, he stated.
About 80 percent of residences in the Juana Matos community were demolished from storm surge and flooding. Homes there are filled with at least 3 to 4 feet of water, based on Montalvo.
Puerto Rico will feel hurricane-force wind gusts through Wednesday afternoon, though the wind will weaken as the day goes on.
Maria is predicted to move off Puerto Rico’s northern shores and into open Atlantic waters Wednesday night, likely allowing the storm to strengthen.
Maria is also predicted to approach the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night, but the Caribbean nation is not likely to get directly hit. Still, Punta Cana could encounter hurricane conditions.
By Friday, Maria will pass to the east of Turks and Caicos, where there’s a opportunity for hurricane-force winds and heavy rain but the storm is not anticipated to make a direct hit.
From there, the hurricane is predicted to pass by the southeast Bahamas Friday into Saturday.
“At this point, it looks like Maria will miss the United States and will move out to sea sometime later next week,” ABC News senior meteorologist Max Golembo stated. “But this will be a close call, so we will be watching carefully.”
Forecast models at the moment show the storm continuing to weaken next week as it moves far offshore of Florida and the Carolinas.
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