Preparations remain underway for Hurricane Irma’s potentially catastrophic arrival in the continental United States as the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic makes its way through the Caribbean. Its rapid development from a tropical cone into a weather system the size of Texas continues to be a cause for concern.
Here’s what we know:
- Hurricane Irma, still a category 5 storm, is packing maximum sustained winds of up to 298 kph and is packing gusts over 346 kph.
- The storm first made landfall in Barbuda on Wednesday, September 6 shortly before 06:00 UTC.
- Irma may, however, be downgraded to category 4 before it hits the United States.
- Authorities in South Carolina declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, September 6, in anticipation of the storm’s arrival over the weekend.
- In Florida, a statewide suspension of road tolls was issued to ease the flow of mandatory evacuations (like the one ordered for the Florida Keys) and the transportation of essential relief goods. Supermarkets have also been reportedly stripped of supplies as residents prepare for the coming storm.
- Tankers, container ships, and other vessels scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades will either be delayed or diverted.
- A number of American energy companies, such as Buckeye Partners, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, may take a hit should storm projections prove accurate.
- Puerto Rico also issued evacuation orders for flood-prone areas, as did authorities in eight coastal provinces in the Dominican Republic. A number of flights in and out of the latter location initially slated for Wednesday, September 6 and Thursday, September 7 have been cancelled.
- Both Delta and Southwest Airlines have cancelled flights in and out of the Caribbean region from Wednesday, September 6 until Saturday, September 9.
- Six islands in the Bahamas were ordered to evacuate to Nassau, while a state of emergency was also declared in the US Virgin Islands.
- Communications on the islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy are reportedly down. The weather system has already claimed two lives and injured at least another two people.
- Seaports in the British Virgin Islands have been shut to all maritime activities outside of essential traffic. Flights to and from the islands have also been cancelled as airports remain shut.
- The following Caribbean islands have been placed under hurricane warning: Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, and St. Kitts & Nevis.
- Cuba has initiated its hurricane preparedness plan, attending to communications and infrastructure maintenance ahead of any hurricane watch declarations.
- Currently making its way through the Caribbean, Irma is expected to make its way through Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti on Thursday, September 7.
- Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Turks & Caicos islands may see the storm hit on late on Friday, September 8 or early on Saturday, September 9.
- Should the hurricane make landfall in the continental United States, it is projected to continue past Florida state and move northward along the east coast potentially hitting the following areas until Sunday, September 17: Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Georgia, Savannah, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, Virginia Beach, Washington, Baltimore, and New York.
- Models suggest that should Hurricane Irma hit Miami as a Category 4 storm, the damage could tally up to $125B. Should Irma continue as a Category 5, the cost could double. Alternately, a southwestern turn could bring the cost down to less than $50B.
- Keep yourself updated: as Irma approaches the contiguous United States, more detailed forecasts will become available. The hurricane’s path may be tracked live.
- Transparency is key: master your information and rally your troops, staying proactive is still the best approach. For a more detailed rundown of what to do, revisit us here.