Hurricane Maria, now a category 5 storm (on a scale of 1 to 5), was located approximately 200-225 km (130-140 mi) south of the islands of Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin as of 05:00 (local time) on Tuesday, September 19. Maria is expected to remain a major hurricane (level 3 or higher) as it passes some 150 km (90 mi) south of the islands on Tuesday. The French meteorological agency, Météo France, has placed both islands under a “red” storm alert, the second-highest on a three-tier scale; the alert is expected to remain in place until 18:00 on Tuesday. People are advised to remain indoors until further notice and all non-emergency vehicles are banned from the roads. The US-based National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane watches - meaning hurricane conditions are possible - for both islands.
Rainfall of over 10 cm (4 in) is possible along with storm surges; as such, dangerous flooding is possible in coastal areas and along waterways. Damaging winds are also possible, along with power outages, water cuts, transportation disruptions, and business/store closures in the hours and days following the storm’s passage.
Earlier this month Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, struck the islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, resulting in major damages. Conditions on both islands remain critical and could be further aggravated by Maria.
As a reminder, a nightly curfew remains in effect for Saint Martin between 19:00 and 06:00. The order is expected to remain in place until at least the morning of September 21.
Individuals present in Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy are advised to follow any instructions issued by the local authorities, keep abreast of weather forecasts and alerts, and avoid coastal and mountainous areas (risk of flooding and landslides).
Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous; 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult. Finally, because floodwater may also contain wastewater or chemical products, wear boots and try to avoid any contact with the water. All items having come into contact with the water should be washed and disinfected and foodstuffs disposed of.
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