Hurricane Irma, September 2017
11 Sep 2017
Category 5 Hurricane Irma was the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm made landfall on Wednesday, September 6, sweeping over a string of Caribbean islands. The tiny island of Barbuda received a direct hit and suffered devastating destruction. Prime Minister Browne reported that most of the island’s buildings are damaged or destroyed and over half of its population is homeless. Antigua was spared destruction on such a large scale, but others, such as St. Martin, are reporting major damage. Irma skirted Puerto Rico, sparing it from damage other than some flooding and major power outages. The Virgin Islands are reporting damage; St. Thomas suffered extensive damage. The Dominican Republic sustained damage to over 2,000 homes. Haiti, spared a direct hit, escaped severe damage. Turks and Caicos are reporting substantial damage. Irma moved over the northern portion of Cuba, killing 7 people. The storm was a category 5 when it made landfall, flooding some coastal areas. Low-lying parts of Havana suffered severe flooding and wind damage.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday, September 10, as a Category 4 storm. Irma battered the islands with winds up to 130 mph and 10 foot storm surge. The Keys are currently cut off from the mainland, with no electricity or running water. Substantial damage is reported. The storm cut its path up the western coast of Florida, but with winds more than 400 miles from the center, it was large enough to affect both coasts. Miami was spared a direct hit, but there was flooding in large areas and wind damage. Irma was a Category 2 hurricane when it hit Naples on the west coast, causing flooding and wind damage there as well. Irma has weakened to a tropical storm now, but is still very strong. Parts of northern Florida are experiencing significant flooding from storm surge and overflowing inland waterways, including the city of Jacksonville. More than 26 river gauges in northern Florida are in major flood stage. At least 6.5 million homes are without electricity across the state.
Irma’s center has now moved north into Georgia and is battering the region with storm surge, winds and the threat of tornados. In South Carolina, Charleston is under a flash flood emergency.
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