The British Virgin Islands are under a hurricane watch thanks to Hurricane Maria, which gained strength overnight. The British Overseas Territory is could begin to feel the effects of the hurricane by Tuesday. Here’s the latest track and forecast for the islands.
The 8 a.m. ET public advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami reports that the hurricane has strengthened to maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kmh) and it is 85 miles (135 km) east of Martinique. The French island is about 570 km away from the British Virgin Islands and the storm is moving west-northwest at 15 mph (19 kmh).
The islands are now under a hurricane watch, as are the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. According to the NHC, this means that “hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.” Therefore, Maria is expected to reach the British Virgin Islands by Tuesday morning.
“Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night,” the NHC stated.
As of Monday morning, Maria is a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. When it reaches maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph (178–208 km/h), it will be classified as a Category 3 hurricane.
The British Virgin Islands are still rebuilding from Hurricane Irma, which stuck the islands earlier this month. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson flew to the islands to tour the destruction and told the media that he has “never seen anything like it.” He described the damage as “absolutely hellish.”
The U.K. government has promised to spend £57 million to help the BVI, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The government is also considering aide for Antigua and Barbua, an independent country, The Guardian notes.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the BVI is made up of 16 inhabited and over 20 uninhabited islands. It has an estimated population of 35,015 people. Residents are British citizens, although the BVI is not considered part of the European Union.
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