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Major Hurricane Irma to brush northern Caribbean as it tracks toward the US this week

By last modified Sep 05, 2017 04:09 PM
Major Hurricane Irma will skirt across the northern Caribbean islands with flooding rain, damaging winds and dangerous seas before eyeing the United States this week.

Published: 2017-09-03 23:00:00
Topics: Weather
Countries: Cuba , Dominican Republic , Haiti , Puerto Rico , St Kitts & Nevis , Anguilla , Antigua & Barbuda , British Virgin Islands

Major Hurricane Irma to brush northern Caribbean as it tracks toward the US this week

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“Irma is a serious threat for the Caribbean islands and United States,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

Irma, currently a Category 3 hurricane, poses an imminent danger to the northernmost Leeward Islands. Preparations for the storm should rushed to completion in these areas.

“Rain and gusty winds may start as early as Tuesday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.

Irma has been fluctuating in intensity over the past few days, but is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h) on its closest approach to the islands.

The storm will turn to the north and west over the coming days. This track will put Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, in the brunt of the storm's rain and wind spanning Tuesday and Wednesday.

Widespread power outages and damage to trees and structures are likely where the eye of the storm passes directly over or makes its closest approach.

Rainfall will be heavy enough to trigger flash flooding, mudslides and road washouts.

“Severe effects from the storm may be limited to a radius 50 miles (80 km) of the center, while the storm moves through the tropics,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Rough surf will spread outward from the storm, leading to dangerous swimming and boating conditions along the east-facing beaches of the Lesser Antilles. Small craft should head to port and remain there until Irma has passed.

Cruise and shipping interests in the projected path of Irma should make plans to reroute.

During the middle and latter half of the week, Irma will move close to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola with the worst of the storm expected to miss the islands to the north. Even so, rough surf, gusty winds and downpours will increase.

There is an increasing concern that the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas will face very dangerous conditions at the end of the week and into the weekend as Irma tracks nearby or possibly through the islands. Impacts will be severe if Irma maintains its strength and passes over the islands. Should Irma track more to the south, Cuba could be threatened by intense rain and wind.

Given the uncertainty that remains, all interests from the Bahamas to Florida, the Carolinas, southern New England and Bermuda should closely monitor the forecast path of Irma this week and review emergency and evacuation procedures in case they need to be implemented.

Another tropical threat brewing

Behind Irma, a disorganized area of showers and thunderstorms located hundreds of miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands will need to be monitored for potential development.

This system will move into a favorable environment for organizing and gaining strength as it moves to the west-northwest toward the Lesser Antilles during the middle and latter part of this week.

The next storm in the Atlantic Basin would acquire the name Jose.

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