Hurricane Irma has cut a swathe of destruction across the Carribean killing at least 10 people. As reported by ABC News, Irma has caused the deaths of at least eight people on the islands of St. Martin and St. Barts., and the French Interior Minister has said that at least 21 people were injured. At least one person has died on Barbuda were Irma is reported to have destroyed 90 percent of the buildings on the tiny island.
The Washington Post reports that at least one person has been killed on Anguilla. Sadly the death toll is sure to rise when the storm abates enough to allow rescue and recovery efforts to begin.
Latest reports from the National Hurricane Center say that Irma is now off the northeast of the Dominican Republic and is predicted to hit the Bahama’s later today. Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded with sustained wind speeds of 185 mph and gusts approaching 250 mph.
There had been hopes that Hurricane Irma might veer into the Atlantic Ocean to the east of Florida, but the latest forecasts suggest that will not be the case. The latest update from the National Hurricane Center warns that Irma will make landfall in southern Florida early on Saturday.
“The threat of direct hurricane impacts in Florida over the weekend and early next week has increased. Hurricane watches will likely be issued for portions of the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula later this morning.”
According to ARS Technica, the latest predictions on the path that Hurricane Irma will follow are based on modeling from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. The European Center provides the world’s most accurate forecasts for hurricane tracking.
The European model is supported by 34 European intergovernmental organizations and has superior hardware to the U.S. system. It also has better real-world data, including atmospheric soundings, the use of reconnaissance aircraft and data from weather stations across the globe.
The superiority of the European model explains why, when some models predict Irma passing to the east of Florida, the official prediction from the National Hurricane Center suggests that Irma will make landfall close to Miami.
As Hurricane Irma crosses the Caribbean it remains a Category 5 hurricane, and it has retained that status for longer than any hurricane ever recorded. There is no sign of Irma’s ferocity abating, so Floridians are being advised to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
[Featured Image by NASA/NOAA via AP Images]