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The Modern Hurricane Maria: a Normative Critique

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Truly Maria – The Modern Hurricane Maria: A Normative Critique

Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico. The tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide of 2017, Maria was the th named storm eighth consecutive hurricane, fourth major hurricane, second Category 5 hurricane, and the deadliest storm of the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. At its peak, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, compounding recovery efforts in the areas of the Leeward Islands already struck by Hurricane Irma. Maria was the third consecutive major hurricane to threaten the Leeward Islands in two weeks. after Irma made landfall in several of the islands two weeks prior and Hurricane Jose passed dangerously close, bringing tropical storm force winds to Barbuda. Maria is also the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record with a total of roughly $100 billion in damages; only hurricanes Katrina and Harvey from earlier in the season inflicted more damage, respectively.

Originating from a tropical wave, Maria became a tropical storm on September 16, eTast of the Lesser Antilles. Highly favorable environmental conditions allowed the storm to undergo explosive intensification as it approached the island arc. The hurricane reached Category 5 strength on September 18 just before making landfall on Dominica, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island. After weakening slightly due to crossing Dominica, Maria achieved its peak intensity over the eastern Caribbean with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph and a pre 908 mbar, making it the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record. On September 20, an eyewall replacement cycle took place, weaken Maria o a high-end Category 4 hurricane by the time it struck Puerto Rico, Interaction with land further weakened the hurricane, though it regained some strength as it moved northeast of The Bahamas. Moving slowly to the north, Maria gradually degraded and weakened to a tropical strom on September 28 Embedded in the westerlies. Maria accelerated toward the east and later east-northweast over the open Atlantic, becoming extratropical on September 30 and dissipating by October 3.

As of November 20, at least 517 people were killed by the hurricane: 499 in Puerto Rico.31 in Dominica,5 in the Dominican Republic 4 in the contiguous United States, 3 in Haiti, 2 in Guadeloupe. and 3 in the United States Virgin Islands. Dozens of others, mostly in Dominica and Puerto Rico, are still missing. The death toll in Puerto Rico is believed to be far higher than the official toll of 58, with estimates of the actual loss of life ranging from 500 to more than 1,000. Maria wrought catastrophic damage to the entirety of Dominica, which suffered an island-wide communication blackout. Much of the housing stock and infrastructure were left beyond repair, while the islands lush vegetation had been practically eradicated. The island of Guadeloupe and Martinique endured widespread flooding, damaged roofs and uprooted trees. Puerto Rico suffered catastrophic damage, including destruction of its previously damaged electrical grid. For weeks in Maria’s wake, most of the island’s population suffered from noodling and lack of resources, compounded by the slow relief process.Total losses from the hurricane vary wildly but are estimated at upwards of $99.45 billion, mostly in Puerto Rico

Meteorological History

The National Hurricane Centre began monitoring two tropical waves on September 13. The easternmost wave quickly spun up into what would become Hurricane Lee, while the western one continued moving generally westward. With generally favourable conditions in the disturbance’s path, development into a tropical cyclone seemed likely. During those two days the disturbance became better organised, and by September 16. convective banding became established around poorly-organised circulation. As the system was an imminent threat to land despite the centre not being well. defined, the NHC initiated advisories on it as “Potential Tropical cyclone Fifteen” 15: 00 UTC, in accordance with a policy change enacted at the tart of the season. A midlevel ridge anchored north of the disturbance steered west northwest into a region highly favourable for further development sea surface temperatures of, low wind shear and ample moisture were anticipated to foster hurriecane-status before the system reached the Lesser Antilles. At that time, Maria was situated 620 mi east southeast of the Lesser Antilles.

A central dense overcast and favourable outflow developed atop the centre of circulation, which enabled Maria to become further organised throughout the early morning hours of September 17. After a brief intrusion of dry air exposed the circulation, a convective burst occurred over the centre and intensification resumed, Hurricane Hunters investigating the system observed surface wind of and a formative eye feature. Accordingly the NHC upgraded Maria to hurricane status at 21 00 UTC. Expansion of the central dense overcast and an increasingly complete eyewall singled steady intensification throughout the night of September 17-18 Considerable lightning activity was identified within the hurricane’s core early on September 18 and statistical models indicated a high probability of rapid intensification. Explosive strengthening took place shortly thereafter, with aircraft reconnaissance finding surface winds of and a central pressure of 59 mbar, making Maria a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and hence a major hurricane. Additionally, radar data revealed a well-defined wide eye. The eye contracted slightly to as intensification continued, and the system reached Category 4 strength by 21: 00 UTC.

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The Modern Hurricane Maria: A Normative Critique. (2018, December 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 28, 2021, from
“The Modern Hurricane Maria: A Normative Critique.” GradesFixer, 17 Dec. 2018,
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