As Hurricane Maria Strengthens, Puerto Rico Could Face “Life-Threatening” Flash Floods

National

The Caribbean islands are still reeling from Hurricane Irma, but another big storm is on the way, and Puerto Rico is in its crosshairs. Hurricane Maria strengthened to a Category 5 storm and is expected to make landfall in  Dominica Monday (Sept. 18), the Associated Press reports.

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According to the National Weather Service, the storm has sustained maximum winds of 160 mph and is likely to hit Puerto Rico as an “extremely dangerous hurricane.” An emergency warning has been issued for the island.

Maria is expected to impact the Virgin Islands and Leeward Islands, which include Puerto Rico and the British Islands, dumping heavy rain into the region that could cause “life-threatening flash floods.”

Nearly 500 shelters have been opened across Puerto Rico as the storm expects to make landfall by Tuesday evening. Governor Ricardo Rosselló also announced school closures and will allow government employees to leave by noon Tuesday “so that they have time to prepare themselves for the passage of the hurricane.”

Additionally, the government has been in “constant” communication with the White House and federal agencies since before Hurricane Irma struck last week.

“We will continue to collaborate with our federal partners,” said Carlos Mercader, a rep for Rosselló said in a statement. “We are preparing for a powerful hurricane that will put even more pressure on our infrastructures already deeply affected by Hurricane Irma.”

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