Track.jpg

 

 

Hurricane Irma made its first landfall in the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday after growing into one of the most powerful storms ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean.  The storm is one of three (Irma, Jose and Katia) hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have been in the Atlantic.  Jose, in the open Atlantic far to the southeast of Irma, became a hurricane. Katia, in the Gulf of Mexico, also became a hurricane.

Irma has maintained intensity above 180 mph longer than any storm in Atlantic basin history.  Late Wednesday night, Irma’s core was spinning about 85 miles northwest of San Juan, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.  In the US Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp ordered a 36-hour curfew.

Irma’s core slammed the tiny island of Barbuda before moving over St. Martin and Anguilla and parts of the British Virgin Islands. Its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph were well above the 157 mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.  Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said that the telecommunications system in Barbuda, where 1,800 people live, was wiped out and cell towers were knocked over.  Both of the island’s hotels were demolished, he added.  There is also no way to land airplanes on the islands, Browne said from Antigua, whose 80,000 people comprise most of the two-island nation’s population.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said Irma destroyed four of the most solid government buildings on the French-administered portion of nearby St. Martin, an island of about 75,000 people.  Puerto Rico and Storm surge is a concern for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Central Bahamas (up to 20 feet), as is heavy rain (up to 20 inches in the Virgin Islands, and up to 20 in parts of Puerto Rico).

Computer models show that on Thursday the storm will move very near or over the Turks and Caicos, with catastrophic damage likely. The storm will also pass just north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, bringing hurricane force winds to northern sections of the island, with flooding and mudslides probable.

In the Bahamas, emergency evacuations have been ordered for six southern islands — Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.  “This is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country,” Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.

It’s too early to tell whether it will make landfall on the US mainland but models show it could hit near  Florida’s east coast by late Sunday, and forecasters warn the core still could hit the Florida peninsula.

Emergency management officials are requiring visitors to the Florida Keys to begin evacuations by sunrise Wednesday due to incoming Hurricane Irma; resident evacuations begin 7 p.m. Wednesday.  Floridians should heed any evacuation order, Gov. Rick Scott said. “A storm surge could cover your house. We can rebuild homes — we cannot rebuild your family,” he said.

 

Advertisements