Issued 1pm Friday, September 8th 2017 AEST. Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas are all bracing for severe impacts from Category 5 Hurricane Irma over the next 72hrs as the system barrels through the Caribbean causing immense destruction. Above image via RAAMB / CIRA
Over the past few days, the horror story of Irma has become a reality as she carves a catastrophic path of destruction through the Caribbean en route for South-East U.S.A. Irma originally made landfall as a Category 5 monster at the island of Barbuda where become the equal strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall (tying the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane at 185mph / 300km/h winds). Reinforced steel communication towers were bent to the ground like something out of hollywood, with the prime minister stating 90% of the island was completely destroyed and the remaining 10% was severely damaged. He stated the island was now just rubble. Irma then tracked over Saint Martin / St Maarten and Anguilla where its believed at least 85% of those islands are completely levelled also… and as of midday Friday AEST, the system is currently directly impacting the Turk and Caicos islands were its believed immense destruction is likely! So far at least 10 fatalities have been confirmed!
Irma is expected to maintain a WNW track for the next 36-48hrs moving through the Bahamas and Cuba. A dangerous storm surge is likely to impact coastal parts of several islands including Northern Cuba during this time, along with hurricane force winds for Cuba also leading to widespread damage. Models have come into much more agreement now that late Saturday, due to a breakdown in a ridging pattern over the Eastern USA, Irma is likely to track more towards the North from North of Cuba and head towards Miami, Florida as a Category 5 or high end Category 4 system. During Sunday, Irma is expected to make landfall over Florida. Very destructive winds, heavy rain with flash flooding and a strong to dangerous storm surge are all likely for Southern and South-Eastern Florida during landfall.
Irma is then expected over the 36hrs post-landfall to continue North, impacting the ENTIRETY of Florida as well as large parts of Georgia and surrounding States. Destructive to very destructive winds are expected to occur over much of Florida, with the East Coast likely to experience storm surges. Across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, there is an increased risk of hurricane-spawned tornadoes ahead of Irma’s arrival also.
The Bahamas, Northern Cuba and in the latest update… Southern Florida, are all under a Hurricane Warning with parts of Central Florida under a Hurricane Watch which will likely extend further up the Coast into Georgia and South Carolina over the next 24hrs.