A Potentially Catastrophic Hurricane Irma Nears Leeward Islands
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday September 5, 2017 – A potentially catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds that have now reached 180 miles per hour, and it will move dangerously near or over portions of the island chain tonight and early tomorrow.
At 11 a.m., Irma was about 225 miles east of Antigua and 230 miles east southeast of Barbuda, and moving towards the west at 14 miles per hour.
That general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the west northwest tonight. Forecasters say any delay in that shift could see Irma moving directly over the Leeward Islands as the strongest to hit the area since Lenny in 1999.
“On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma is forecast to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands tonight and early Wednesday…Irma is a an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days,” the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said.
Destructive winds, capable of widespread tree damage, power outages, and structural damage can be expected. Storm-surge flooding, high surf and rip currents will also be dangers, and heavy rain could contribute to flooding and mudslides, as well.
Based on wind speed, Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Wilma in 2005 which had maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. And, according to hurricane expert Dr. Phil Klotzbach from Colorado State University, it is only the 17th Atlantic hurricane to have maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour or greater.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from Irma’s centre, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.
Timing for Potential Impact of Hurricane Irma
- Leeward Islands: Late Today-Wednesday
- Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Wednesday- early Thursday
- Dominican Republic/Haiti: Thursday- early Friday
- Turks and Caicos: Late Thursday-Friday
- Bahamas: Friday-this weekend
- Cuba: Friday-this weekend
New hurricane watches have been issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands; as well as the north coast of Haiti from the border of the Dominican Republic westward to Le Mole St. Nicholas. A tropical storm watch has also been issued from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, the US and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Both a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning are still in place for Guadeloupe; Dominica is also still under tropical storm warning;
A hurricane watch is also still in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Engano to the Haiti border; while a tropical storm watch is in effect for the Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona and Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince.