Hurricane Irma Becomes A Dangerous Category 5 Storm

Hurricane Irma strengthened into a powerful Category 5 storm on Monday forcing Florida to be declared a state of emergency. The National Hurricane Center said that the storm was packing top sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h). “Additional strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” the NHC warned.

Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency told:

We’re looking at Irma as a very significant event. I can’t recall a tropical cone developing that rapidly into a major hurricane prior to arriving in the central Caribbean.

Then he added:

Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path — potentially impacting millions of Floridians.

Irma grew into a Category 5 storm on Tuesday, as it approached the northeastern Caribbean with winds of 140 mph. In comparison, Hurricane Harvey had winds of 130 mph when it made landfall in Texas last week.

U.S. residents were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. In the Caribbean, the governor of the British Virgin Islands urged people on Anegada island to leave if they could, noting that Irma’s eye was expected to pass 35 miles (56 kilometres) from the capital of Road Town.

Antigua and Anguilla shuttered schools Monday, and government office closures were expected to follow.

On the tiny island of Barbuda, hotel manager Andrea Christian closed the Palm Tree Guest House.

We can’t do anything about it. We just have to wait it out.

Category four strength was the maximum attained by Hurricane Harvey, which recently devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Irma is projected to reach the Leeward Islands, east of Puerto Rico, by late on Tuesday or early Wednesday, bringing water levels up to 9 feet (3 metres) above normal levels, rainfall of up to 10 inches (25 centimetres) in areas, and “large and destructive waves”.

A hurricane warning was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts. A hurricane watch was in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and U.S. Virgin islands and Guadeloupe. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Guadeloupe and a tropical storm watch for Dominica.