Category 5 hurricanes a rare hazard for continental United States

Thursday, 07 Sep, 2017

Sir Richard Branson has refused to leave his private Necker Island and says he will be hiding in his wine cellar when Hurricane Irma hits the luxury hideaway. The northernmost island, Barbuda, home to roughly 1,800 people, was "totally demolished", with 90 percent of all dwellings there leveled, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, according to island television broadcasts.

Irma is now the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, and is on trajectory to pass over Puerto Rico and hit Florida. The hurricane has already touched down in parts of the Caribbean, including Barbuda and St. Martin.

President Donald Trump has issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which hasn't seen a storm like Irma since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928. The U.S. Virgin Islands are also experiencing severe weather.

Authorities in Florida issued emergency warnings on Tuesday, with officials in Georgia and SC following suit for their states' coastal areas after forecasts showed Irma veering northward.

The Category 5 storm, with sustained winds of up to 185 miles per hour is expected to continue bringing life-threatening hazards to parts of the Caribbean this week, the National Hurricane Center says.

As one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded threatened Haiti on Wednesday, an Ottawa native who's been through this before was ready to help the country withstand the ordeal.

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century
NASA Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century

At this time, Jose is not expected to follow the same path as Irma.

Early reports suggested damage on parts of the smaller islands - a tropical region popular with tourists.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey's destruction left meteorologists grasping for words, Hurricane Irma again has the field at a loss. "This is not an order of evacuation", McMaster said in Columbia, South Carolina's capital, adding evacuations could be ordered as early as Friday - if needed.

- In Broward County, Florida, a mandatory evacuation will go into effect at noon Thursday for areas east of Federal Highway, Mayor Barbara Sharief said.

"For the Florida Keys, you're gonna start to feel it 8am Saturday, The worst?.A little bit later at 6am Sunday", WCBS's Chief Weathercaster predicted live during a newscast.

PM Browne said getting supplies delivered to residents of the island was "a challenge". Latest paths for the storm have it impacting almost the entire state of Florida, and potentially further up the East Coast into the Carolinas.