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Hurricane Maria: Dominica's strongest on record

Ben Domensino, Tuesday September 19, 2017 - 11:16 AEST

Hurricane Maria has begun a multi-day path of destruction through the Caribbean islands.

Hurricane Maria intensified into a category five hurricane as it came within 30km of Dominica on Monday night. This is the highest possible category on the American scale and is equivalent to a strong category five tropical cyclone in Australia.

Maria is the first category five hurricane to make landfall in Dominica on record.

At the time of landfall, average wind speeds near the system's core were estimated to be 260 km/h, with very destructive gusts reaching 315 km/h. The central pressure was estimated at 924 hPa.

This makes Maria stronger than Tropical Cyclone Yasi was when it made landfall near Mission Beach in Queensland in 2011.

Power and water stopped working on Dominica during Monday, so the full extent of damage won't be visible until the sun rises on Tuesday.

After crossing Dominica, Hurricane Maria is expected to move towards the northwest and make landfall once again in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands on Wednesday. At this stage, Maria is expected to still be a category four or five hurricane when it reaches these islands.

The latest advisories for Hurricane Maria are available on the National Hurricane Centre website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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