The National Hurricane Center has described Hurricane Irma as “potentially catastrophic” as the storm continues its trek through the Caribbean. Listed as a Category 5 storm—the highest category possible—and is so strong that it’s registering on earthquake devices, according to sources.
The storm is creeping through the Caribbean at 15 mph with sustained winds of up to 185 mph, and is being described by some as the most powerful hurricane ever recorded.
Evacuations have been ordered throughout the Caribbean, and in Florida, Governor Scott has activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard to be deployed across the state, and 7,000 National Guardsman were to report for duty on Friday, the anticipated arrival of the storm on Florida shores. Scott has declared a state of emergency in all of Florida’s 67 counties.
On Wednesday Irma made its first landfall in northeastern Caribbean, and is predicted to rake a path through Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, and possibly Florida over the weekend. The eye of the Hurricane passed over Barbuda 1:47 a.m. local time, according to the National Hurricane Center. The agency has described the hurricane as “life-threatening,” bringing with potentially flash floods and mudslides.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 185 mph that struck Barbuda overnight on Tuesday are the strongest on record for any Atlantic hurricane, dating back to the 1930s.
“All of Florida—especially South Florida and the Keys—should be preparing for a major hurricane landfall on Sunday,” said forecaster Brian McNoldy in a Washington Post article. “It cannot be overstated that Hurricane Irma is extremely dangerous and will produce the full gamut of hurricane hazards across the Caribbean and potentially South Florida, including a devastating storm surge, destructive winds and dangerous flash flooding,” he said.
The Bahamas are planning the “largest evacuation in its history,” according to the country’s Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis.
Forecasters anticipate up to 10 inches of rain could fall, generating landslides and flash floods, as well as creating waves up to 23 feet in height. Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello has said that decisions made on the island could be a matter of “life and death,” as his island prepares for the worst.
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