Hurricane Maria made landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near the town of Yabucoa at approximately 6:15 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time on September 20, 2017. Maria was listed as a strong Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 249 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour). The storm tracked across the center of the island, from southeast to northwest, and produced up to 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) of storm surge. The hurricane also dumped greater than 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) of rain over much of the island, with even higher amounts (50-101 centimeters, or 20-40 inches) in some areas, causing hundreds of landslides across Puerto Rico.
All of Puerto Rico was exposed to hurricane force winds, extreme rainfall, and associated flooding and landslides during Hurricane Maria. Coastal areas around the entire island also were exposed to storm surge. These multiple hazards caused severe physical damage to engineered buildings, non-engineered building systems, and infrastructure networks (such as water and electrical transmission lines). The storm also resulted in severe loss of life, displaced hundreds of people from homes and businesses, and created challenges to evacuation, sheltering, and emergency response.
In response to this event, NIST has invoked the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act in order to investigate the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico. The lessons learned as a result of this investigation will help improve codes, standards, and practices, in order to strengthen buildings and infrastructure, save lives, and reduce property losses from future storms in hurricane-prone areas.