Hurricane Maria, which is now a Category 5 hurricane, has Haiti in its path. The country, which sits on the west side of Hispaniola was already hit by Hurricane Irma earlier this month. The latest forecast from the U.S. National Hurricane Center predicts that Maria will reach the Leeward Islands by Monday night and could reach Haiti by late Thursday.
The 8 p.m. ET cone track from the NHC shows Maria reaching Hispaniola, the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, by Thursday afternoon after it passes Puerto Rico. However, much of southern Haiti is no longer in the cone. This doesn’t mean that Haiti will not be affected, it just means that it might not face the worst of Maria.
The latest public advisory reports that Maria is 40 miles (70 km) east of Martinique and is moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kmh). Its maximum sustained winds are at 160 mph (260 kmh), making it a Category 5 hurricane.
Parts of Haiti along the northern part of its border with the Dominican Republic are under a Tropical Storm Watch. This “means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.” The Weather Channel forecasts that Haiti could see the effects of the storm Thursday, before Maria itself reaches Hispaniola.
Hurricane Irma caused damage throughout Haiti, although it could have been much worse. As The Miami Herald reported on September 9, the storm dealt a blow to the country’s economy and food supply.
“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Artis Esperance told the Herald. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”
Last year’s Hurricane Matthew was a catastrophic event for Haiti by comparison. There were reports that as many as 1,000 people died, but the official number was 546 deaths. It caused $2.8 billion in damage to the country, which is considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
“If [Hurricane Irma] had come with a lot of rain, a good amount of people here would be dead,” Neckson Joseph, a motorcycle taxi driver, told the Miami Herald. “There wasn’t a lot of rain, but there was this strong wind. We had this kitchen outside, covered with aluminum. It didn’t even leave a beam standing.”
The CIA World Factbook estimates Haiti’s population at 10.6 million. Its capital city is Port-Au-Prince.