Vastavam web:The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean early today, churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.The eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 1:47 am (loca time), the National Weather Service said. Residents said over local radio that phone lines went down. Heavy rain and howling winds raked the neighboring island of Antigua, sending debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.
The Category 5 storm also knocked out communication between islands. Midcie Francis of the National Office of Disaster Services confirmed there was damage to several homes, but said it was too early to do tally or assess the extent of the damage.Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Fernandez, who has temporary oversight for Disaster Management told The Associated Press via text that the northern end of island was hit hard by the storm. He did not elaborate on the extent of damage.The storm had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph), according to the US National Hurricane Center. Its forecast early today was for the winds to fluctuate slightly but for the storm to remain at Category 4 or 5 strength for the next day or two.
“I hear it’s a Cat 5 now and I’m terrified,” Antigua resident Carol Joseph said yesterday as she finished her last trip to the supermarket before seeking shelter.”I had to come back for more batteries because I don’t know how long the current will be off.” On the 108-square-mile island, people who live in low- lying areas were staying with friends and relatives on higher ground or sleeping in churches, schools and community facilities built to withstand hurricanes. None of the shelters have yet been tested by Category 5 winds, however.President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and authorities in the Bahamas said they would evacuate six southern islands.
Warm water is fuel for hurricanes and Irma is moving over water that is 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal. The 79 degree (26 Celsius) water that hurricanes need goes about 250 feet deep (80 meters), said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private forecasting service Weather Underground.”This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp warned. “It’s not time to get on a surfboard.”