By Michael Le Page
It’s a monster. As the eye of Hurricane Irma approached the tiny island of Barbuda this morning, wind speeds soared to 250 kph before the instrument broke.
At the time of writing, all contact with the island had been lost and it is unclear how the 1600 inhabitants have fared. But already reports of severe destruction are coming in from other islands in Irma’s path.
The destruction could be extreme. Hurricane Irma has the strongest winds of any hurricane to form in the open Atlantic, with sustained wind speeds of 295 kph.
It is also huge. The strongest winds are limited to a relatively small area around its center, but hurricane-force winds of 118 kph or more extend out 85 kilometers from its eye.
Irma could yet grow stronger and is going to graze or directly hit many densely-populated islands in the Caribbean before possibly making landfall in Florida on Sunday – but there is still a lot of uncertainty about its path and intensity this far ahead.
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