Dorian has been upgraded to a hurricane as the churning storm prepares to strike Puerto Rico on Wednesday — with 75-mph winds and heavy rains that could cause up to $15 billion in new damage there.
It was upgraded from a tropical storm after picking up steam overnight and shifting course to put it on a more direct collision course with the US territory — and could be headed for the Florida coast this weekend as a Category 3 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said.
A hurricane warning remained in effect in Puerto Rico as the area braces for impact, with more than 300 emergency shelters opened throughout the island, Gov. Wanda Vazquez said in a televised broadcast.
“We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island,” Vazquez said.
Maria slammed Puerto Rico in 2017, leaving 3,000 dead and inflicting $90 billion in damages.
AccuWeather estimated that Dorian could cause up to $15 billion in new damage to the island based on the increased winds and heavy rainfall that could cause flash flooding on the island.
“The estimate includes damage to homes and businesses, their contents and cars, as well as job and wage losses, infrastructure damage, costs to the travel and tourism industry, and auxiliary business losses,” AccuWeather said in an advisory.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the US and British Virgin Islands.
The storm is expected to hit Hispaniola by early Thursday.
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