Hurricane Irma Causes Widespread Flooding, Southeast Braces
WASHINGTON — Hurricane Irma has left death and devastation in its wake, most recently hitting Florida and where it caused more damage and flooding statewide.
Hurricane Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 storm early on Tuesday, September 5, when its sustained winds reached 185 mph. The Category 5 wind-speed mark is 157 mph. The storm is one of the strongest ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, according to NOAA. On Friday, Irma was downgraded to a strong Category 4 with winds near Category 5 speeds. However, since then, Irma has bounced around on the Category rating scale.
Turks and Caicos received substantial damage on Thursday, and the Dominican Republic and Haiti took damage as well, though not a direct hit, according to CNN. Cuba was also pummeled shortly afterwards.
Most computer-modeled predictions have Hurricane Irma hitting the southeast coast of Florida in the early hours on Sunday, yet that has been pushed back a bit as the storm has stalled and is regaining strength. CNN reports Irma maintained wind speeds above 180 mph longer than any other Atlantic storm in history.
Monday, September 11
Even as it continues to cause record flooding across southern states, Irma is downgraded to a tropical storm, and large swaths of the region remain under a tropical storm warning.
Irma brings heavy rain, flooding, and dangerous storms across Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas, with at least one death reported in Georgia.
White House warns power could remain out for parts of Florida for weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Charleston, South Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida, see record rains and flooding.
Florida Keys evacuees attempting to return home clashed with police who insisted the bridges must be inspected before residents would be allowed across, according to Reuters.
More than 70 percent of Miamians still lack power, according to the Guardian.
Irma downgraded to a Category 1 as it nears northern Florida.
Sunday, September 10
The hurricane is downgraded to a Category 2 as it crosses land.
Irma makes landfall in Naples, Florida, as a Category 3 before moving out to sea again and then pummeling Tampa as it began a path northward across the state.
Irma smashes into the Florida Keys, killing one and leaving destruction in its wake.
South Florida residents awake to find Irma’s eye has shifted its path towards the west coast.
Saturday, September 9
Crossing across Cuba breaks the storm up, slowing it again to a Category 4 hurricane as it aims toward south Florida.
Irma increases strength to a Category 5 before making landfall along Cuba’s north coast with sustained winds in excess of 160 mph, according to USA Today.
Southeast Florida sees two tornadoes form from off the north side of the hurricane and flooding begins.
Friday, September 8
Irma hit Turks and Caicos, causing major damage across the islands.
South Florida has been upgraded to a hurricane warning, which extends up to Lake Okeechobee and Jupiter.
Officials for the US Virgin Islands have reported at least four dead on the islands, with St. Thomas and St. John islands taking the brunt of the damage according to CNN.
Palm Beach County, Florida, Coastal and low-lying areas are no under mandatory evacuation orders.
The storm is downgraded to a Category 4 as it approaches Cuba’s north coast.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issues mandatory evacuation order for all areas east of I-95 as well as other areas ahead of the storm, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Hurricane Jose upgraded to Category 3. Its path is still forecast to directly hit Barbuda by Saturday where 60 percent of residents are now homeless.
President Trump declared a state of emergency for South Carolina ahead of the storms arrival, and mandatory evacuation order for coastal areas starting Saturday morning.
The death toll has risen to 19, with nine in the French Caribbean, four in the US Virgin Islands, three in Puerto Rico, and one in each St. Martin, Barbuda, and Anguilla, according to the New York Times.
Irma is in open waters, moving toward the southern Florida coast where it is expected to make landfall in early morning hours on Sunday.
— Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) September 8, 2017
Hurricane Jose has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of about 150 mph.
Jacksonville, Florida, has issued a mandatory evacuation order for coastal and low-lying areas.
FEMA says with certainty that IRMA will impact Florida.
Electricity has been restored to 144,000 homes in Puerto Rico, according to the New York Times.
The Dominican Republic reports more than 7,000 displaced people in the area.
Evacuations Cuban coastal areas continues.
Category 1 Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico is gaining strength as it heads toward the Mexico where the strongest earthquake in more than 100 years hit early this morning, according to Newsweek.
Irma downgraded to a strong category 4 hurricane, though windspeeds are still 155 mph, only two below the Category 5 threshold.
Bahamas are expected to see 20-foot waves late Friday, according to CNN.
Thursday, September 7
Antigua and Barbuda, which took a major hit from Irma (see below), is now under a hurricane watch for Hurricane Jose.
Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas are under a hurricane warning, while south Florida and parts of Cuba are under a hurricane watch.
The island of Hispaniola braces for damage as the Dominican Republic and Haiti stand just south of Irma’s path, according to Weather Underground.
Florida’s Brevard County announced mandatory evacuation orders beginning Friday for island areas, mobile homes, and flood-prone sections, according to CNN.
Irma hits north side of Puerto Rico, leaving 900,000 residents without power and more than 56,000 without water, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Reports roll in on destruction to those areas already hit:
- Barbuda: Upwards of 95 percent of Barbuda is damaged, with 60 percent of the population left homeless. One death was reported, and the island’s infrastructure is demolished, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Martin: The island, which has been badly damaged, is left without power, with six people reported dead, according to CNN.
- Bart’s reports substantial damage and two deaths, according to CNN.
- Anguilla reports substantial damage and one death, according to CNN.
- Saint Barthelemy reports up to three or more feet of water standing water and no power, According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Wednesday, September 6
Miami Mercy Hospital evacuated, according to CNN.
Flood waters in Puerto Rico rise to more than two feet in some areas as the island prepares for the storm’s arrival.
Tropical Storm Jose upgraded to a hurricane with 75 mph winds. It is expected to follow a path across the eastern Caribbean similar to or just north of Irma’s path, according to multiple outlets.
Irma moves across the British Virgin Islands.
American Airlines cancels more than 2,100 flights into and out of airports south of Orlando.
Fort Lauderdale mayor announces mandatory evacuations for Broward County areas along the coast and elsewhere in the county in low areas or mobile homes, according to CNN.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issues a state of emergency ahead of the storm.
By 11 a.m. EDT, Irma’s force winds stretched more than 300 miles across, or more than 65,000 square miles (the square mileage of Florida), according to CNN.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency, orders a mandatory evacuation orders for parts of the state, and pleads with residents to evacuate ahead of the hurricane, which he calls “bigger, faster, and stronger” than 1992’s Category 5 Hurricane Andrew.
The U.S. State Department issues travel warning to Cuba ahead of the storm.
Puerto Rico’s governor declares a state of emergency and reports, if Irma takes out the island’s power system, the area could be without power for as much as six months, according to NPR.
Barbuda, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelemy have been directly hit by Irma.