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Category 5 Hurricane Maria now tracking towards Puerto Rico

The Category 5 Hurricane Maria is now tracking for landfall on Puerto Rico. The powerful hurricane packs 165 mph (270 km/h) sustained winds.

The powerful Category 5 Hurricane Maria has Puerto Rico dead in its sights. The latest public advisory by the NOAA National Hurricane Center has Maria sustaining 165 mph (270 km/h) winds, a solid Category 5 hurricane, while tracking towards Puerto Rico at about 10 mph (17 km/h). Central pressure has dropped to 910 mbar.

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Radar imagery of the hurricane indicates a double eyewall. The tight inner (‘pinhole’) eye, with the extremely powerful wind field and a distinct outer eyewall, about 3 to 4-times the diameter of the inner one. It is likely the hurricane will go through an eyewall replacement cycle, in which the inner eyewall will collapse. Maximum sustained winds may drop slightly, however, the size of major hurricane force wind field will increase.

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Category 5 is the top category on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, producing widespread devastation on landfall. Hurricane Maria already made landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 storm, then temporarily weakening slightly, just below the Category 5 threshold, but soon regaining its power. Widespread devastation was reported in Dominica, and it is likely there will be similar effects in parts of Puerto Rico when the system makes landfall later this morning. In addition to extreme wind damage, intense torrential rainfall with totals in excess of 500 mm is likely to produce devastating flash flooding.

Keep updated with the latest data on Hurricane Maria.