Hurricane Harvey has caused an enormous amount of devastation and ruined the lives of scores of people in Texas, and yet it’s looking like Hurricane Harvey is a warmup act compared to the damage that could result from Hurricane Irma. Irma has been described as “extremely dangerous”; those in the southeastern part of America should brace themselves.
Here are five things you need to know about Hurricane Irma:
1. Irma has been classified as a Category 5 hurricane. A Category 5 hurricane is the highest rating under the National Hurricane Center, which describes a Category 5 hurricane as:
2. Irma is projected to feature winds as high as 180 miles per hour (mph) and storm surges as high as in the 7-11 foot range. Hurricanes are classified as Category 5 when winds reach the 157 mph threshold, per the National Hurricane Center. The highest winds for a hurricane ever recorded were at 190 mph.
3. Irma will be headed through the northeastern Caribbean and toward the United States. Irma’s path is projected to head toward areas like the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas. The storm could eventually hit the Florida Keys in a few days; Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Maryland and Virginia could possibly be hit by Irma as well. Irma’s path is capable of changing, but people should be prepared.
4. Puerto Rico and Florida have both declared states of emergency. USA Today reports:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello declared a states of emergencies Monday. Rossello on Tuesday met with mayors, National Guard leaders and emergency officials on the island. He issued a list of shelters and urged residents in high-risk areas to evacuate. He spoke by phone with White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and with FEMA administrator Brock Long. FEMA tweeted a photo of a warehouse loaded with bottled water and other supplies “if needed.”
Scott executed his state of emergency across all 67 counties and ordered all 7,000 of the state’s National Guard members to report for duty Friday. He reached out to FEMA for food, water and tarps. The state has more than 300 truckloads of water and 1 million meals at the state Logistics Response Center in Orlando. “Given the size of the population threatened by Hurricane Irma, however, the state will need additional emergency supplies,” Scott wrote. He also urged families to stock emergency kits and develop disaster plans.
According to CNN, residents of Puerto Rico and Florida are besieging stores for food and water as well as banks to withdraw some extra cash; the run on supplies has caused shelves at stores to be literally empty. University of Miami Cyclone Researcher Brian McNoldy told The Atlanticthat “stores are already running out of the usual supplies” and there’s “a lot of anxiety.” Tourists have been told to evacuate the Florida Keys.
5. Puerto Rico could face blackouts for as long as 4-6 months. According to ABC News, “The utility’s infrastructure has deteriorated greatly during a decade-long recession, and Puerto Ricans experienced an island-wide outage last year.” Irma will clearly put further strain on Puerto Rico’s fragile electricity capability.
Irma will be monitored closely going forward, especially in light of the damage from Hurricane Harvey. Irma is poised to be worse, and those in areas in its path should brace themselves for the worst.