HURRICANE IRMA SUPER STORM UPDATE - Crashes Through Caribbean, Heading For Florida & Southeast U.S.




HURRICANE IRMA SUPER STORM UPDATE - Crashes Through Caribbean, Heading For Florida & Southeast U.S. For more than a day, monstrous Hurricane Irma has sustained Category 5 winds while ripping through the northern Lesser Antilles. The storm, tied for the second-strongest ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, is charging through the Virgin Islands and headed for Puerto Rico, the southeastern Bahamas and, by the weekend and early next week, Florida and the Southeast U.S Preparations should be rushed to completion near its path. At 3 p.m., the storm was 80 miles east of San Juan and was barreling west-northwestward at 16 mph. The storm’s eye had moved over Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and its southern eyewall (the region of most powerful winds) raked Saint Thomas. boats Irma on Tuesday intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory. Hurricane Irma is about 270 miles (440 km) east of Antigua and packing maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h), the Miami-based weather forecaster said. Irma, which is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days, will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night and early Wednesday, the NHC said. The hurricane will blast the northern Caribbean with flooding rain, damaging winds and rough surf over the next few days, AccuWeather warned, bringing life-threatening conditions to the islands. A similar scenario could play out somewhere along the Gulf or East coasts of the United States this weekend or next week, depending on where Irma tracks. The storm could hit Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas, or even head into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Irma is now the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic since 2007. When a Category 5 hurricane hits land, "a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse," the hurricane center said. "Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months," the center said. Hurricane warnings were in effect for several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where "preparations should be rushed to completion." according to the hurricane center. There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend, the hurricane center warned. "While the track is still uncertain, the time to prepare is now," the Weather Channel warned. Retail traffic across Florida's Treasure Coast, north of Miami, indicated residents were preparing. By Monday afternoon, shelves of water had been emptied at Walmart in Vero Beach, and a water-filling station stayed busy at Peter's Hardware Center in Palm City. Monday afternoon American Airlines canceled flights into St. Kitts and St. Maarten for Tuesday and Wednesday, but added an extra flight Tuesday out of each destination to Miami to help those who want to clear out before the storm. The airline also is waiving change fees for passengers affected by Irma and traveling Tuesday through Friday. core of Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands tonight and early Wednesday. Irma is forecast to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico beginning tomorrow. Hurricane Irma could also ’directly affect' the Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, later this week. large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 11 feet along the coasts of the northern islands, causing coastal flooding. The British and US Virgin Islands could see up to 11 feet of water, while “There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend. coast of could get up to four feet and the southern coast could see up to two feet. Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St Martin, St Barths, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.





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