5pm UPDATE from National Hurricane Center (Drone footage shows Puerto Rico destruction)

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So far 18 people are dead and 20 are missing as a result of Hurricane Maria.

The forecast now is for Hurricane Maria to remain out to sea, thus, missing the U.S after the storm took a sharp turn heading east.  However, experts say this can change at any time and so the U.S. must remain on alert for the next few days as Maria makes her path better known. (See graph at bottom of post).

The storm is a Category 3 hurricane packing winds of 120 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5pm advisory.  It remains a very dangerous storm.

Moving away from Puerto Rico, Maria is bringing high winds and heavy rain to the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and tropical storm warnings are now in place for Turks and Caicos, which was slaughtered last week by Irma.  Most of the tourist destination was without power for days — some parts still remain dark.

The images coming out of Puerto Rica are harrowing (see videos below).  Most of the island is without any power, some people have no clean water, and the flooding in some areas is massive following Maria’s exit.    Estimates are that some parts of Puerto Rico will have no power for 6 months.

5pm BULLETIN
Hurricane Maria Advisory Number 23
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL152017
500 PM AST Thu Sep 21 2017

…TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS BEGINNING TO SPREAD OVER THE TURKS AND
CAICOS ISLANDS…

SUMMARY OF 500 PM AST…2100 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————-
LOCATION…20.8N 69.8W
ABOUT 90 MI…145 KM NE OF PUERTO PLATA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
ABOUT 95 MI…155 KM ESE OF GRAND TURK ISLAND
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…120 MPH…195 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NW OR 315 DEGREES AT 9 MPH…15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…960 MB…28.35 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
——————–
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The government of the Dominican Republic has discontinued the
Tropical Storm Warning along the southern coast of the Dominican
Republic west of Cabo Engano.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
* Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Central Bahamas

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and
property should be rushed to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Interests elsewhere in Hispaniola and the Bahamas should monitor the
progress of Maria.

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor
products issued by your national meteorological service.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
——————————
At 500 PM AST (2100 UTC), the large eye of Hurricane Maria was
located near latitude 20.8 North, longitude 69.8 West. Maria is
moving toward the northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this general
motion is expected to continue through tonight. A turn toward the
north-northwest is forecast early Friday, with that motion
continuing through Saturday. On the forecast track, Maria’s
eye will continue to pass offshore of the northern coast of the
Dominican Republic this evening, and then move near or just east of
the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas tonight and on
Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher
gusts. Maria is a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale. Little change in strength is expected during
the next couple of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from
the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160
miles (260 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 960 mb (28.35 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
WIND: Hurricane and tropical storm conditions continue across
portions of the Dominican Republic. Tropical storm conditions are
beginning to spread across the Turks and Caicos Islands and the
southeastern Bahamas, and hurricane conditions are expected tonight
or early Friday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the
central Bahamas beginning late Friday.

STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and
destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet
above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area in the
Dominican Republic, and 1 to 3 ft elsewhere along the northern
coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves
will raise water levels by as much as 9 to 12 feet above normal
tide levels within the hurricane warning area of the southeastern
Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

RAINFALL: Maria is expected to produce the following rainfall
accumulations through Saturday:

Puerto Rico…additional 4 to 8 inches, isolated maximum storm total
amounts 40 inches
Northern and eastern Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and
Mayaguana in southeast Bahamas…8 to 16 inches, isolated 20 inches
Inagua Islands, Crooked Island, and rest of southeast Bahamas…4 to
8 inches
Northern Haiti…4 to 8 inches

Rainfall on these islands will continue to cause life-threatening
flash floods and mudslides.

SURF: Swells generated by Maria are affecting Puerto Rico, the
Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and
Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas. These swells will
reach the remainder of the Bahamas tonight and should reach portions
of the United States southeastern coast on Friday. These swells are
likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
Please consult products from your local weather office.

NEXT ADVISORY
————-
Next intermediate advisory at 800 PM AST.
Next complete advisory at 1100 PM AST.

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