The National Hurricane Center projects Tropical Storm Maria will become a Hurricane Sunday, September 17, 2017.
Maria is projected to to strike Puerto Rico this coming Wednesday (20 Sep 17) as a major (M) hurricane. At this moment, somewhere between 20% to 30% of Puerto Rico is still without power from Irma's weak side wind and storm surge.
According to this model, after striking Puerto Rico, the wind speed will die down to a lesser (H) hurricane force before skirting the Northern side of Dominican Republic/Haiti.
Looking at last week's satellite imagery, Irma did not strike either Puerto Rico or Domican Republic/Haiti head on. Irma skirted to the North of both islands and damaged the two islands with weak side winds
Before hitting Puerto Rico later next week, Maria's hurriance winds will blast the newly denuded Leeward islands of Atingua, Anguilla, The British and US Virgin Islands, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, and the newly un-populated Barbuda, where all humans have left for the first time in 300 years.
Imagine what islands of rubble will look like after a new Category 1 or 2 hurricane lifts the landbased flotsam and jetsam jettisoned from homes and businesses by Irma's force and flings it again like an Oracle throwing the bones.
Here's a thought: satellite imagery of these islands before Irma showed lush green vegetation. Post-Irma, the islands are brown from trees being stripped of fronds or being knocked down.
As I've just learned from Irma, the dense foilage of the 30,000 sq. acre nature preserve next to my house (the last house on a dirt road in Cudjoe Key, FL where Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys) dense vegetation acts somewhat as a wind break for houses where there is no overdevelopment.
As we've already seen, Barbuda is completely decimated. All humans evacuated after Irma hit because there is no place to live, no infrastructure remains.
Is the same thing about to happen to the more heavily populated Virgini Islands, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin and other former tropical paradises torn to bits during Irma? That is, will Maria add enough destruction to these tiny islands in the stream that their populations will also become refugees?
We will know the answer late next week.