Next Up … Hurricane Irma has Strengthened to a Category 5 Storm Takes Aim at Florida (Update: Devastation in Caribbean)
HURRICANE IRMA …
Hurricane Irma is making its way thru the Caribbean, where it will or if it will hit the United States is still up in the air. Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds near 175 mph as it approaches the northeast Caribbean on a path toward U.S.
“Extremely dangerous” Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, with sustained winds of 175 mph.
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.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s emergency declaration mentions that weather models predict Irma will “head into the Straits of Florida as a major hurricane,” then “travel up the entire spine” of the state. The declaration — which applies to all of the state’s counties — also outlines an emergency response plan, including potential policies such as waiving fees on toll roads, activating the National Guard, and setting up shelters in public buildings.
On Twitter Monday, Scott also urged “all Floridians to remain vigilant and stay alert to local weather and news” and “to get prepared.”
In Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló also declared a state of emergency, saying that Puerto Rican officials have issued price freezes on basic necessities, and that the US territory has 456 shelters that can accommodate 62,100 people.
Hurricane Irma left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean on Thursday as the Category 5 storm howled past Puerto Rico and headed toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti on its way to Florida.
At least 10 people have died and authorities are struggling to get aid to small Caribbean islands devastated by the storm’s record 185 mph winds. Barbuda’s prime minister called the island “barely habitable” and St. Martin, an island split between French and Dutch control, saw extensive damage and was completely destroyed in places.
Communications with areas hit by Irma have been difficult, and information on damage trickled out. However, authorities cautioned the death toll is likely to rise. Of the dead, one was a 2-year-old from Barbuda, eight were from St. Martin and St. Barts and one was from Anguilla, where the British government described the situation as “critical.”
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told France Info radio that the toll on Saint-Martin and Saint-Barts be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish their inspection of the islands.