Hurricane Irma Devastates Leeward Islands: What’s Next?
Category 5 hurricane Irma carved a path of destruction across the Leeward Islands last night. Irma's eye went right over the island of Barbuda, a small island part of Antigua and Barbuda. The Prime Minister said that "Barbuda is literally rubble" and that there was complete devastation with 95% of the structures damaged.
The eye of this record breaking storm just missed Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands today, sparing them the worst. There have still been reports of damage in these areas and some fatalities in other areas.
Unfortunately, Irma is expected to remain a category 5 hurricane for at least the next couple of days, possibly gaining even more strength. A direct hit to the Turk and Caicos is expected on Thursday, then the storm should move into very warm water between Cuba and the Bahamas where it is expected to start to make a turn north towards Florida over the weekend. We're pretty confident the hurricane will turn north, but the question is when? The timing of that north turn will have huge implications on its path. If it turns a bit earlier than normal, then it could just miss Florida and head for Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina. If it turns when expected, it could directly impact southeastern Florida near Miami. If it turns late, it could impact western parts of Florida. There is obviously still some uncertainty, but forecasts will start to come together in a couple days.
Hurricane Watches and Warnings are up from the Leeward Islands all the way to the Bahamas. Florida is next with watches likely going up on Thursday. Florida and the SE coast, including Delmarva needs to continue to watch the path of this storm as things can still change. Stay tuned as the 47 ABC Storm Team keeps you updated.