The category four storm is which is getting stronger and could dump up to 25cm of rain and cause landslides and flash floods.
5 September, 2017
Just days after Harvey slammed into the US Gulf Coast with deadly consequences, another hurricane poses a “significant” threat to the Caribbean.
Irma, a category four storm which is still getting stronger, is bearing down on the region and could dump up to 25cm of rain and cause landslides, flash floods and seven-metre high waves.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre expects the storm to make landfall in south Florida on Saturday, but it is too soon to say for sure as its path is uncertain.
The islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten and St Barts have all been issued with hurricane warnings.
A less significant hurricane watch was in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and US Virgin islands and Guadeloupe, while a tropical storm watch was issued for Dominica.
Forecasters have said Irma is a classic ‘Cape Verde hurricane’, which forms in the far eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands then moves all the way across the Atlantic.
Irma is set to strengthen over Tuesday and is currently packing winds of up to 130mph.
Antigua prime minister Gaston Browne has ordered workers to clear drains and prune trees as branches could down power lines in strong winds.
He said: “The passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly, but we must not panic.”
Governor of US territory Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, said 10-20cm of rain were expected, as well as winds of 40-50mph as he warned of flooding and power cuts.
A state of emergency was declared on the island, which has a population of about 3.4 million and shelters equipped to house 62,100, while a fund of around $15million was confirmed.
Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean disaster emergency management agency, said: “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.”
Florida governor Rick Scott urged the state’s residents to ensure their disaster supply kits were ready.
“FL (Florida) knows how important it is to be prepared. Encourage your loved ones to have a plan ahead of any potential storm,” he tweeted.
The storm directly follows Hurricane Harvey, which has been blamed for at least 60 deaths and has forced tens and thousands from their homes in Texas.