Things have escalated rather quickly with Hurricane Maria. A category 1 storm as of Monday morning, with sustained winds of about 90 mph, developed into a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds over 160 mph by evening that same day.
The rapidly intensifying storm was one of the more swift transformations in recent memory.
While #Maria has intensified very quickly, Wilma 2005 was still faster: cat 1 to cat 5 in less than 12 hours vs Maria about 15 hours.
— Dr. Rick Knabb (@DrRickKnabb) September 19, 2017
Per HURDAT2, #Maria may be the fastest deepening from formation to Cat 5 (57 hrs). Felix & Matthew currently tied (60 hrs).
— Tomer Burg (@burgwx) September 19, 2017
The storm scored a direct hit on the island of Dominica, resulting in Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit needing rescue. The roof to his home had been torn off.
“I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane,” Skerrit posted to social media. “House is flooding.”
He also declared “The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God.”
Now, officials in Puerto Rico are warning residents that Hurricane Maria will be more powerful and devastating than Irma.
I can’t possibly stress this enough: If you have friends or family in Puerto Rico, please get in touch.
Maria will be much worse than Irma. https://t.co/lTEUFh2E0j
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 18, 2017
Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s Public Safety Commissioner took it a step further, declaring that residents “have to evacuate … Otherwise, you’re going to die.”
Puerto Rico Public Safety Commissioner: “You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you’re going to die.” #Maria will devastate the island.
— Tyler Sebree (@TylerWLIO) September 19, 2017
“I don’t know how to make this any clearer,” Pesquera said.
— CNN (@CNN) September 19, 2017
Meanwhile, officials are warning residents not to stick around because emergency responders will not go out in the storm during harsh conditions.
“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,” Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló declared.
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