FORT MYERS, Fla. Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday, knocking down communication towers, snapping trees and unloading heavy rains.
The Category 2 storm — significantly weaker than the Category 5 monster it was Tuesday — had 110 mph winds as it moved northwest at about 9 mph as of the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m. advisory. The storm was about 55 miles away from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
The system will not affect Florida, WINK meteorologist Matt Devitt said.
“You can rest easy with that … Maria is not in the mix,” Devitt said.
But in the Caribbean, the effects have been dire.
Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning as the third strongest storm to make landfall in the United States based on a key measurement meteorologists use: air pressure.
The lower the central pressure a storm has, the stronger it is and Maria’s pressure was 917 millibars. That’s lower than Irma’s U.S. landfall of 929 millibars in the Florida Keys earlier this year, as well 2005’s Hurricane Katrina landfall of 920, which had been in third place.
Only two hurricanes hit the United States, U.S. islands or Hawaii with a stronger pressure: the 1935 Labor Day storm that hit the Florida Keys and 1969’s Camille that devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for the following areas:
- Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
- Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas
Tropical storm warnings are in effect for the following areas:
- Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti
- Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
Also, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.