Published On: Wed, Sep 6th, 2017

Irma is the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history: NHC

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The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, had maximum sustained wind speeds of 185mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.

It is churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.

The storm “will bring life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards”. The storm is said to be the size of Texas. Millions of people in the path of Hurricane Irma could be affected.

Understandably, travellers already in the region or with imminent plans to visit are concerned. Many have contacted The Independent with their questions, which form the basis for this Q&A.

Q Where is Hurricane Irma heading, and how bad is it? 

On Wednesday morning, local time, the hurricane caused havoc in the northeastern Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Anguilla.

The hurricane is moving a little north of due west, with the eye travelling across the sea at a speed of 15mph.

Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest storm ever recorded

In line for the hurricane are Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Barthelemy, both British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the north coast of the Dominican Republic.

The winds created are much higher than the speed at which the weather system moves. Hurricane-force winds gusting in excess of 200mph extend outward, with very strong gusts 60 miles from the centre.

Dangers from what the NHC calls “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane” include “A life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves.”

In the Turks and Caicos Islands and the south-eastern Bahamas, water levels are predicted to rise by 20 feet.

Almost tsunami-like conditions are expected in the Virgin Islands, with land under up to 11 feet of water.

In addition, says the NHC, “heavy rains associated with Irma “could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides”.

The NHC says: “The chance of direct impacts from Irma beginning later this week and this weekend from wind, storm surge, and rainfall continues to increase in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula. However, it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of these impacts.”

Source: NHC



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