Hurricane Maria made landfall as a Category 4 storm on the morning of Sept. 20 in Puerto Rico, bringing winds at about 160 mph to an island that dodged the worst of Hurricane Irma’s destructive power only a few weeks ago.

In San Juan, the capital, most of the vegetation in the city was flattened and some structures sustained damage.

50 MILES

Atlantic Ocean

San Juan

PUERTO RICO

(U.S.)

Caribbean Sea

(DigitalGlobe)

On the more remote island of Vieques, Maria leveled forests and left a mess of debris.

50 MILES

Atlantic Ocean

San Juan

PUERTO RICO

(U.S.)

Vieques

Caribbean Sea

(DigitalGlobe, CNES/Airbus and Google)

In just over 24 hours, the storm dumped more than two feet of rain on parts of the island, triggering massive flooding in the central and northern areas. That region’s uneven terrain also contributed to flooding, channeling water into streams and rivers that crested far above flood stage.

Precipitation amount from Sept. 19-21

4

5

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

inches

San Juan

Arecibo

Ponce

Path of

Maria

30 MILES

Precipitation amount from Sept. 19-21

4

5

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20 inches

Arecibo

San Juan

Ceiba

Caguas

Ponce

Guayama

20 MILES

Precipitation amount from Sept. 19-21

4

5

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20 inches

Arecibo

San Juan

Carolina

Ceiba

Caguas

Mayaguez

Humacao

Cabo Rojo

Ponce

Guayama

Salinas

10 MILES

Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall on the island in more than 80 years. San Juan, on the northern side of the island, is the most densely populated area, with nearly 400,000 people.

Urban density

High

Low

River gauges observations

Major flooding

Moderate

Minor

San Juan

Arecibo

Ponce

30 MILES

River gauges observations

Urban density

High

Low

Major flooding

Moderate

Minor

Arecibo

San Juan

Ceiba

Caguas

Cabo Rojo

Ponce

Guayama

20 MILES

River gauges observations

Urban density

High

Low

Major flooding

Moderate

Minor

Arecibo

San Juan

Carolina

Ceiba

Caguas

Mayaguez

Humacao

Cabo Rojo

Ponce

Guayama

Salinas

10 MILES

After Maria passed through, the entire island was without power. Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure was deteriorating from a lack of maintenance even before the one-two punch of Irma and Maria. Five days later, most of the island is still in the dark.

Visible lights at night on July 24

San Juan

Ponce

Guayama

Sept. 25

San Juan

Ponce

Guayama

Visible lights at night on July 24

San Juan

Ponce

Guayama

Sept. 25

San Juan

Ponce

Guayama

Sept. 25

Visible lights at night on July 24

San Juan

San Juan

Ponce

Ponce

Guayama

Guayama

About this story

GOES-16 satellite imagery via NOAA. Hurricane path from the National Hurricane Center. Precipitation and flood gauge data from National Weather Service. Urban density data from the USDA Forest Service PRGAP Analysis Project. Visible light at night imagery from NASA Suomi NPP Satellite. Before-and-after imagery from DigitalGlobe and Google Earth.

Originally published Sept. 21, 2017.

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