Hurricane Irma Hits the Caribbean
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/6/2017, 7:33 a.m.
By Steve Almasy and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) -- As Hurricane Irma's eye roars away from the tiny island of Barbuda and toward St. Martin, residents along its path scrambled to evacuate while stocking up on water, food and gas.
The massive eye stared down on Barbuda early Wednesday, thrashing it with howling winds before it marched along its path on the Caribbean.
Irma's eye was bigger than Barbuda, CNN meteorologist Jenn Varian said. It packed winds of 185 mph, making it one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded.
The Category 5 hurricane is "potentially catastrophic," especially if it hits islands at high tides, the National Hurricane Center said.
-- Islands near its expected path Wednesday morning and early afternoon include St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the British and US Virgin Islands.
-- The storm's center is expected to pass near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday afternoon or night.
-- Irma then is expected to turn toward the Turks and Caicos islands and the southeastern Bahamas, where storm surges of up to 20 feet are possible, the hurricane center said.
-- It's too early to tell whether it will make landfall on the US mainland, but forecasts show it could churn toward Florida over the weekend.
-- Floridians are not sitting around, waiting. Evacuations are underway, with some schools shut down and shelters set up.
-- In the US Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp ordered a 36-hour curfew that was starting at 6 a.m. local time Wednesday.
-- In the Bahamas, emergency evacuations have been ordered for six southern islands -- Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.
-- "This is the largest such evacuation in the history of the country," Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.
-- Bahamian officials also canceled vacation time for police and defense forces.
-- Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jose, in the open Atlantic far to the southeast of Irma, is expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday night.
-- "Interests in the Leeward Islands should monitor the progress of Jose," the National Hurricane Center said.
Islands under hurricane warning
Forecasters are mostly concerned about the northeastern Caribbean, according to Michael Brennan of the hurricane center.
Islands under hurricane warning include Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Barts, the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti, Guadeloupe, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
"The extremely dangerous core" of Irma was to move over parts of the northern Leeward Islands on Wednesday morning, near or over parts of the northern Virgin Islands later Wednesday and near or just north of Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday night, the hurricane center said.
Puerto Rico: Long lines
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló declared a state of emergency and has activated the National Guard.
For hours, people lined up outside hardware stores, hoping to get plywood, batteries and power generators. If Irma knocks out power, Puerto Ricans said it could take weeks or months before it is restored.