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Catastrophic Hurricane Irma: The most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic in a decade

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 09, 2017 02:46 PM
As catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels up through the northern Caribbean island chain, several islands have been severely affected and damage is still being assessed.

Published: 2017-09-08 23:00:00
Topics: Caribbean Sea
Countries: Antigua & Barbuda , Bahamas , British Virgin Islands , Puerto Rico , St Barts , St Martin , Turks & Caicos , US Virgin Islands , USA , Mexico , Anguilla

Catastrophic Hurricane Irma: The most powerful storm to hit the Atlantic in a decade

Three simultaneous hurricanes that are threatening land - courtesy of the NHC

Updates 9 September (Saturday)

Hurricane Jose to threaten rain, wind across Leeward Islands following devastation from Irma

10+ Horrifying Photos That Reveal How Bad Hurricane Irma Truly Is

Updates 8 September

Hurricane Irma latest news: Storm pummels Turks and Caicos Islands as it moves to Bahamas (8 September)

St Thomas and St John were the USVI islands hardest hit by Hurricane Irma.

St Croix, 40 miles south, escaped major damage and has become a hub for aid and support.

Reports via the SSCA are that St Thomas' Government House has lost its roof, the Cancer Centre has been destroyed, the hospital is in a bad shape and the police stations and fire stations. Lots of patients are going to St. Croix or to the States. The Coast guard are there...naval vessels on the way, Military aircraft carrier on the way. St Croix is now the BASE for the recovery for the three islands. No mass casualties but mass devastation.


Posted 7 September

With winds up to 185 miles per hour, Irma is the second-strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. The storm first made landfall in Barbuda which was hit with devastating winds — Barbuda's sister island, Antigua, which is 20 miles to the south escaped with minor damage

Barbuda left a Rubble by Hurricane Irma

The eye of Irma passed directly over tiny Barbuda; 90% of all buildings were destroyed and there is no water or electricity. With Hurricane Jose coming up close behind Irma, evacuation of the 1600 residents may be necessary.

St. Martin, St. Barts, and the Virgin Islands have also sustained massive damage.

Cruisers posting on facebook

Cruisers in the Caribbean are astounded by the ferocity of this hurricane, which seems to destroy everything it touches. Sadly for many it will be a life-altering storm.

Information about the BVIs from the Women Who Sail Facebook Page:

No cell, power or wifi coverage in VG. East End of Tortola without power. LIME, CCT, and Digicel partially up on Tortola. Road Town is flooded with many roofs ripped off. Moorings looks bad from pics I've seen, and Paraquita Bay is really bad. Heard Marina Cay is pretty bad, too, but people are starting to mill around. Lots of debris, so with the wind, everyone needs to still be careful. Even Scotia Bank and Pusser's in RT are destroyed. Branson is ok on Necker, but lots of damage to the island. Ivan's on JVD is destroyed, as are adjacent buildings, it appears. Trellis Bay is damaged but people are safe. Sugar Mill beach bar is gone, and the hotel roof is off, but thankfully, staff are safe. Tamarind Club people are safe at Josiah's Bay. Even Scotia Bank in Road Town is destroyed. VG has no power, wifi, or cell, but Oil Nut Bay has a bunker of people that are safe. There is a FB check-in for those who can access it. Scotia Bank in RT and Pusser's are destroyed. Peter Island peeps are ok, but island is wrecked. All at Scrub Island are safe. Ivan's at JVD is destroyed, as it appears all adjacent buildings. Cane Garden Bay is 80% destroyed. Everyone evacuated to the police station during the Eye. Roof is off of Myett's and Quito's is gone. Carrot Bay is flooded. Nanny Cay has boats piled atop each other. Leverick Bay dock in VG is gone. Peter Island peeps are safe, but Island is a wreck. Same with Eustacia.

A report from a cruiser whose boat is in Simpson Bay Marina in the lagoon at St Martin:

"Looking at the broken window, they told me the glass is rated at 175 mph for 1 hour and there was wind of 200 mph. Would be curious to know how fast was the wind. 
The street looks like a war zone, truck flew over, landed on cars, branches everywhere.
Trying to see (my boat), but I can’t. When I moved into the hotel, I could see the 2 antennas on the main mast. 
I walk to the Marina. 
It look like the Apocalypse. All the boats were destroyed. 
(My boat) has sunk as well. 
As I walk closer, I saw the Mizzen boom above water, the Main boom was under water. Even if I was expecting my boat to sink, it was very emotional. 
Nothing can resist a Category 5 Hurricane. 
My neighbour’s (boat) had sunk. 
A Catamaran went flying and landed on the roof of apartments. 
My neighbor’s Trimaran flipped over.
All (the) monohulls (have) sunk. 
I walked to the other IGY Marina (where they keep the Super Yachts) and it was the same. Total disaster. Catamarans flip over or flew away, several Yachts cut in half. 
From a distance I could see Port de Plaisance and it was the same. 
Same for the rest of the marinas."

Where Next?

Today Irma will reach the northern coast of Hispanola (Puerto Rico), Turks and Caicos and SE and Central Bahamas tonight.

Hurricane Watch is in effect for NW Bahamas and much of Cuba for Friday and Saturday.

The threat of direct hurricane impacts in Florida over the weekend and early next week continues to increase. A hurricane watch has now been issued for South Florida and the Florida Keys. Boats owners in the US are preparing for the worst, with many vessels being lifted out of the water and moved inland for safe storage.

Hurricane Jose

Hot on the heels of Irma is Hurricane Jose.

From Chris Parker, Marine Weather Centre (
Jose is located at about 14.8N/49.1W and is strengthening with max sustained winds of 80k.

Unfortunately for the NE Caribbean the same exact islands that were directly impacted by Irma could be directly impacted by Jose late Saturday (9th September) into Sunday (10th).

While Jose is projected to be a weaker storm than Irma, Jose could easily approach Cat2 or Cat3 or maybe even Cat4 Hurricane status as it passes the NE Leewards. Jose is also much a smaller system so the Tropical Storm and Hurricane force wind will be in a tight radius around the centre.

Islands most at risk are Barbuda, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Martin, BVIS.

Hurricane Katia

Hurricane Katia is stationary in the southern Gulf of Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning (Sept. 7). Forecasters expect the storm to make landfall this weekend in Mexico.

Relief Efforts

Relief efforts are beginning to be organised.

See news item below with links for donations and other useful hurricane associated links.

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