Irma Smashes Turks And Caicos; Category 4 Storm On Its Way To Florida

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By Bill Chapppell and Scott Neuman

Hurricane Irma slammed through the Turks and Caicos Islands en route to a destructive encounter with Florida this weekend. Although the storm has been downgraded slightly, it remains a massively powerful and “extremely dangerous” system, forecasters say.

The extent of the damage to the low-lying Turks and Caicos island chain, located just east of the Bahamas, was not immediately known. Winds at the top end of the hurricane scale and waves as high as 20 feet had been forecast; tropical-force winds will keep hitting the islands through Friday morning.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Irma a notch from the highest Category 5 ranking to Category 4 in its latest bulletin at 8 a.m. ET. Winds that screamed through the Caribbean at up to 185 mph, turning houses into piles of debris and killing at least 14 people, had fallen to 150 mph, the NHC said.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41219133

    The eye of Hurricane Irma has hit Florida’s southern islands as a category four storm, forecasters say.

    It is expected to pummel the low-lying Keys with winds reaching 130mph (209km/h), before travelling north-west up Florida’s Gulf Coast.

    More than 6.3 million people were told to evacuate Florida, with warnings of a huge storm surge that would be “life-threatening” to anyone in its path.

    Part of the problem, is that because of the tiny tides in the Caribbean, much development is very close to sea level – so a large surge is massively greater than the usual high-tide levels or the normal reach of waves.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JC086iC05p04243/abstract?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+unavailable+on+Saturday+and+Sunday+i.e+16th+and+17th+September+at+3%3A00+EDT+%2F+8%3A00+BST+%2F+12%3A30+IST+%2F+15%3A00+SGT+for+5+hours+and+3hours+for+essential+maintenance.+Apologies+for+any+inconvenience+caused+.

    Analysis of tidal characteristics from 45 gauge locations indicates that the Caribbean Sea has a microtidal range, for the most part between 10 and 20 cm.

    In areas with large tides, buildings are usually further back and much higher than the intertidal zone – so surges are only very devastating if they coincide with high tides or spring tides in those areas!

    The world’s largest tidal range of 16.3 metres (53.5 feet) occurs in Bay of Fundy, Canada, and the United Kingdom regularly experiences tidal ranges up to 15 metres between England and Wales in the Severn Estuary. – Wikipedia

  2. @OP – The extent of the damage to the low-lying Turks and Caicos island chain, located just east of the Bahamas, was not immediately known.

    Hurricane Maria is now disrupting relief work:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/hmcs-st-john-s-caribbean-humanitarian-hurricane-1.4295183

    Canadian frigate in Caribbean seeks safe site as Hurricane Maria nears

    Crew from HMCS St. John’s is helping with clean-up and repairs in Turks and Caicos

    HMCS St. John’s and its 220 crew members are being forced to leave a humanitarian mission in Turks and Caicos as another hurricane approaches the already devastated Caribbean islands.

    Hurricane Maria, following on the path of Hurricanes Irma and Jose, is strengthening as it heads toward the Caribbean and Atlantic coast.

    Plumbing and electrical skills are in high demand, Belanger said.

    However, the biggest challenge has been making the island’s salt water desalination plant operational again following the damage it sustained during Irma, he said.

    Every night, the ship goes out about 12 kilometres and desalinates sea water, producing hundreds of litres of drinking water, Belanger said. Crew then fill water bladders and transport the drinking water ashore daily by helicopter.

  3. It looks like the Turks and Caicos Islands, have been unlucky enough to be in the path of two hurricanes in short succession!

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/23/hurricane-maria-irma-turks-and-caicos

    Hurricane Maria has added to the extensive damage on the British overseas territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Foreign Office has said, after the region was pummelled by a second major storm in two weeks.

    Maria battered the Turks and Caicos Islands with winds of up to 125mph on Friday, as the storm continued on its path to roll off the east coast of the US. The Foreign Office has advised: “Hurricane Maria has now passed TCI, but it added to the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Irma.”

  4. I see with deflecting high pressure in the mid Atlantic, the next hurricane – the strongest in recent years in the East Atlantic, is heading north, and is cooling slightly into an ex-hurricane, severe storm, heading for Ireland and Western Scotland.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/oct/16/ex-hurricane-ophelia-landfall-tropical-storm-ireland-red-weather-warning-live-updates

    Ex-Hurricane Ophelia: Ireland braces for landfall of ‘violent and destructive’ storm

    There are now reports that up to 5,000 homes in Cork and Kerry are without electricity after the storm brought down power lines in the south and southwest of Ireland.

    Meanwhile the Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland has just ordered that all courts close across the region by 12.30pm today.

    The Met Office has extended an amber weather warning to parts of Scotland, Wales and northern England threatening power cuts and falling debris.

    The storm has already brought down trees and power lines in south-west Ireland according to the Irish police.

    It’s a rapidly moving picture on the island of Ireland. In the last few minutes the Met Office in Northern Ireland has said the storm will now start battering the region around 12pm and adverse conditions will continue right up to midnight.

    The Met Office said there would be “short, sharp bursts of winds” of up to 80mph in Northern Ireland but the mean wind speed for the whole day could be up to 50mph.

    Fortunately, the waters around the UK are cool enough to power-down approaching hurricanes, rather than intensifying them as the waters of the Caribbean do.

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