2PM UPDATE: Hurricane Irma will be “potentially catastrophic”

GREAT BAY – Hurricane Irma is going to be devastating. The National hurricane Center classified the storm at 2 p.m. on Tuesday as “potentially catastrophic.” It is a Category 5 hurricane with maximum wind speeds of 295 kilometers per hour.

At 2 p.m. the center of the hurricane was at 16.9 N and 59.1 W. St. Maarten’s coordinates are 18 N and 63 W. This means that the system was 122 kilometers south of St. Maarten and 433 kilometers to the east.

Moving still at a speed of 22 kilometers per hour, Irma’s center is set to reach St. Maarten’s longitude in 19 to 20 hours – between 9 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 6.

One hundred marines have arrives on the island for hurricane assistance.

Yesterday morning many people were still out doing last minute shopping. At the Home N Tools hardware store in Marigot, at least fifty people were on front of the door before the store opened.

Orient Village has been evacuated and residents in the coastal zone of Grand Case were also ordered to leave. Tourists who could manage to grab a plane ticket left early morning for safer places like Martinique.

Reports from American Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have reached 295 kilometers per hour with higher gusts.

“Irma is an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, the National Hurricane Center says. “Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day of two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 of 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.”

Hurricane force winds extends outward from the system’s center up to 95 kilometers; tropical storm forc winds extend outward up to 260 kilometer.

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11 feet above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme northern Leeward Islands within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma, the National Hurricane Center says.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

“The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.”

Irma is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches across the northern Leeward Islands.  Irma is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and amounts of 2 to 4 inches over southwest Puerto Rico, the southern Leeward Islands, and Saint Croix. This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Click here for more satellite photo’s and hurricane tracking images…

Source: TODAY http://today.sx/weather/2pm-update-hurricane-irma-will-potentially-catastrophic/