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Hurricane Watches Issued in Florida Ahead of Irma

A Hurricane Watch has been issued in Florida as Hurricane Irma continues to churn through the Atlantic Ocean. The Florida Watches extend from Jupiter Inlet on the east coast, southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach in the southwest, including the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay.  Hurricane Warnings remain in affect for portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. A Storm Surge Watch has been issued for South and Southwest Florida, along with the Keys.

 

Irma remains a dangerous, category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, with gusts to 215 mph. The cyclone is located 40 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island and 135 miles east of Great Inagua Island. Irma continues to move to the west-northwest at 16 mph.

The eye of Irma on satellite continues to be quite distinct and impressive. Data from an Air Force reconnaissance plane indicate that the storm has maintained its strength, with only a slight rise in pressure over the last 24 hours.

The weather environment along the future track of Irma is favorable for the hurricane to maintain its current intensity, although some fluctuations are likely due to eyewall restructuring and replacement cycles, which are difficult to predict. According to the National Hurricane Center, there are no obvious reasons why Irma will not remain a powerful hurricane for the next 3 days while approaching Florida. Water temperatures are very warm and upper level winds are weak. An increase in the wind shear could lead to gradual weakening after this weekend, but Irma is expected to remain a major hurricane until landfall occurs.

There has been a slight shift in the track of Irma to the west from earlier forecasts this morning. Irma is being steered by the flow around the south side of the subtropical Bermuda Ridge, and the forecast was adjusted given that the ridge to the north continues to be strong. This weekend, the hurricane is expected to be located on the southwestern edge of the ridge. This will help to turn the storm to the northwest and eventually north-northwest.

Four coastal states have already declared a State of Emergency, with many areas issuing evacuations. The National Guard has been activated in Florida.

Irma has already left a path of deviation across the Leeward Islands.  The Caribbean island of Barbuda was the first to see Irma, suffered severe damage after taking a direct hit on September 5. A Barbuda Weather Station recorded sustained winds of 119 mph and gusts of 155 mph. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the damage to island was “unprecedented” following an aerial survey on September 6. Browne told state broadcaster ABS TV, “95 percent of properties suffered some level of damage.” He said Barbuda is “barely habitable” and with Hurricane Jose forming in the Atlantic Ocean, Browne said he may need to evacuate the entire Island to Antigua.

Prime Minister Speaks on Barbuda…..LIVE In Studio

ABS Television/Radio 发布于 2017年9月6日

[Antigua and Barbuda. From Facebook/ABS Television & Radio via Storyful]

The French government confirmed that the islands of St Barthelemy and St Martin experienced widespread flooding and electrical blackouts as a result of the Category 5 hurricane, which brought maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. On the Dutch Caribbean island enclave of Sint Maarten, The Princess Julia Airport was severely damaged. According to reports, at least 11 people had been confirmed dead by the morning of September 7.

[Sint Maarten. From YouTube/Dutch Defense Ministry via Storyful]

Extreme winds from Hurricane Irma pounded the Caribbean island of Anguilla on the morning of September 6, after authorities issued flash flood and hurricane warnings and advised residents to avoid unnecessary movement. At this time, most roads are impassible, hindering rescue and recovery efforts.

https://www.facebook.com/1518918695/videos/10213718531587072/

[South Hill, Anguilla. From Calvert Fleming via Storyful]

Irma then moved into the Virgin Islands, causing widespread damage, destroying moorings and buildings in the capital, Road Town, which is on the largest of the islands, Tortola. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK had positioned a landing ship in the disaster zone and its personnel were helping local authorities restore water and sanitation, supply shelter to those made homeless, and offer medical assistance if required. On St Thomas, USVI local media reported wind gusts reached 89 mph on the island, but were likely higher in some areas as the eye passed close to the island.

Unreal #irma

Hubert Haciski 发布于 2017年9月7日

[Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. From Facebook/Hubert Haciski via Storyful]

[St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. From Instagram/Jon Lyons via Storyful]

Hurricane Irma bore down on Puerto Rico on Wednesday, bringing strong strong gusts that rattled buildings and whipped trees back and forth. The island did not take a direct hit, as the eyewall of the storm stayed offshore. According to reports, the hurricane left nearly half of Puerto Rico without power and nearly 50,000 people without water as it passed close to the island.

[San Juan, Puerto Rico. From Twitter/Sonicphoto via Storyful]

Many of the islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic will be affected by the storm over the coming days in varying degree. The Turks and Caicos may be the next area to be affected by the eye of Irma, depending on the path.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

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