Cuba which was already battered by Hurricane Irma, could dodge Hurricane Maria, which is forecast to move north before reaching the island. Hurricane Maria made landfall at Dominica on Tuesday night and is poised to reach Puerto Rico as a Category 5 on Wednesday. However, the U.S. National Hurricane Center’s latest trajectory has the storm making a sudden turn north before reaching Cuba.
The 11 a.m. ET Tuesday forecast from from the NHC in Miami predicts that the storm will not reach Hispaniola, the island that’s home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, until late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. By the time it nears Haiti‘s border with the Dominican Republic, it is predicted to turn north. At this point, it is not predicted to reach Florida, but it’s too far off to tell.
The 11:00 a.m. Tuesday public advisory from the NHC reports that the storm’s maximum sustained winds are at 160 mph (260 kmh) and it is moving west-northwest at 10 mph (17 kmh). A hurricane warning is in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
“Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph (260 km/h) with higher gusts,” the NHC notes. “Maria is a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane until it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”
On September 11, The Miami Herald reported that 10 deaths in Cuba were blamed on Irma, which was a Category 5 when it reached Cuba. That hurricane plowed right through Havana, where seven people died. The United Nations World Food Programme began offering assistance to Cuba with a $5.7 million aid package.
CNN reports that Cuban officials fear over 1,000 structures might fall because of Irma. At least 157 homes were destroyed and nearly 4,300 others were weakened.