Published On: Wed, Sep 20th, 2017

Maria Slams St. Croix, Rips Across Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria tracking stats

(WUNDERGROUND.COM) Ferocious Hurricane Maria made landfall around 6:15 am EDT Wednesday near Yabucoa in far southeast Puerto Rico as a top-end Category 4 storm, with peak sustained winds estimated at 155 mph.

Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.

  • In terms of top sustained wind, Maria is the fifth strongest hurricane on record to hit the U.S. behind only the four Cat 5s to hit the country (Hurricane Andrew of 1992 in South Florida, Hurricane Camille of 1969 in Mississippi, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys, and the 1928 hurricane in Puerto Rico.)
  • In terms of lowest atmospheric pressure at landfall, Maria (917 mb) ranks third in U.S. records behind only the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane and Camille.
  • Maria’s landfall at Category 4 strength gives the U.S. a record three Category 4+ landfalls this year (Maria, Harvey, and Irma). The previous record was two such landfalls, set in 1992 (Cat 5 Andrew in Florida, and Cat 4 Iniki in Hawaii.)

Hurricane Maria satelite image over Puerto Rico

Maria did not hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, thanks to an eyewall replacement cycle (ERC) that began on Tuesday night. The storm’s “pinhole” eye, less than 10 miles wide, was supplemented by an outer eyewall that contracted around the smaller one. The process helped lead to the slight weakening of Maria’s top winds, but it also likely broadened its core of winds topping 100 mph.

Hurricane Maria slams St. Croix

Impact on St. Croix

Maria raked the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix (population 50,000) with its outer eyewall on the strong (right front) side of the eye, between about 1 – 3 am EDT Wednesday morning, but the island missed seeing the Category 5 winds of the inner eyewall, which remained just offshore to the south. The highest winds officially observed on the island were at Cotton Valley RAWS, located on the east end of St. Croix: sustained at 99 mph, gusting to 136 mph, at 2:13 am EDT. A WeatherFlow station at Sandy Point, on the island’s southwest tip, observed sustained winds of 100-104 mph, gusting to 137 mph. Even stronger winds likely occurred somewhere across the island’s west end, but we don’t know how strong, since the wind measuring equipment at the St. Croix airport and the Lime Tree Bay Buoy failed.

See wunderground.com for further details.