Hurricane Irma is now so strong it registers on devices that detect earthquakes as tropical storm Jose forms BEHIND IT and thousands panic buy amid fears it could be worse than Harvey
- Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm on Tuesday
- The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had sustained winds of 185mph, making it the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean
- It’s expected to hit the Leeward Islands tonight or early Wednesday
- From there, it will continue on through Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Cuba
- It’s still unclear where the storm will turn as it inches toward the U.S.
- It could make landfall in Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas
- It could also turn west into the Gulf of Mexico or east into the Atlantic
- A mandatory evacuation has been issued for the Florida Keys
- President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
Hurricane Irma is now so powerful it is registering on devices designed to detect earthquakes.
Scientists started picking up background noise from the storm on their earthquake-detecting seismometers as Irma strengthened into a Category 5 storm on Tuesday.
Winds causing trees to move and crashing ocean waves caused by Irma is what made it possible for the earthquake detectors to pick up the storm.
Irma is currently roaring toward the northeast Caribbean on a path that could take it to the US – causing thousands to start panic buying and preparing to evacuate in Florida.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had sustained winds of 185mph, making it the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean with fears that it could be worse than Hurricane Harvey.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Federal funding will therefore be available for emergency measures including evacuations and coastal fortifications.
Hurricane Irma strengthened into a powerful Category 5 storm on Tuesday. Above, a satellite view of the storm on Tuesday
It’s still unclear where the storm will turn once it gets closer to the U.S. later this week. It could go west into the Gulf of Mexico or east into the Atlantic, or make landfall in Georgia, Florida or the Carolinas
Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are already stocking up on supplies for the hurricane, which is expected to hit between Wednesday and Thursday
Some people waited up to eight hours to check in, shop and leave a Costco in North Miami on Tuesday in preparation for Hurricane Irma
Four other storms have had winds that strong in the overall Atlantic region, but they have been in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico where the usually warmer waters fuel tropical cyclones.
Experts say Irma’s strength is a result of unusually warm water for that part of the Atlantic.
The center said there was a growing possibility that the storm’s effects could be felt in Florida later this week and over the weekend, though it was still too early to be sure of its future track: ‘Everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.’
So far, a state of emergency has been called in the state and a mandatory evacuation is under way in the Florida Keys. Schools there are also cancelled until further notice.
People in the Florida Keys were putting up hurricane shutters and wooden boards on homes and businesses on Tuesday.
Trucks are currently hauling away boats and people are packing in preparation for leaving. Houses in the Keys stand at sea level, with parts of the main road to the Florida mainland going dangerously low.
In addition to Irma, Tropical Storm Jose has now formed behind it in the open Atlantic far from land. Jose is the 10th tropical storm of the season. It has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is about 1505 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.
Shoppers at Costco in North Miami waited up to eight hours for water and essentials in preparation for Hurricane Irma on Tuesday
Jackie Kreuter, 56, of Gulfport, Florida, tosses pool furniture in his pool on Tuesday so it doesn’t fly around during the impending hurricane. Kreuter, along with her mother, husband, sister, daughter, grandson, five dogs and a bird are boarding up their home and business and leaving for Ocala to get out of Hurricane Irma’s way
Residents purchase water at BJ Wholesale in preparation for Hurricane Irma on Tuesday in Miami, Florida
Motorists head north on US Route 1 in Key Largo, Florida on Tuesday as Hurricane Irma moves its path in the northeast Caribbean
Irma’s center was expected to move near or over the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the hurricane center said. The eye was then expected to pass about 50 miles from Puerto Rico late Wednesday.
Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet.
Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.
‘The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can make the difference between life and death,’ Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. ‘This is an extremely dangerous storm.’
Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.
‘This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,’ Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared the state of emergency for all 67 counties in the state on Monday after some forecasts showed the powerful storm could be headed for the East Coast.
‘Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridians,’ Scott said.
‘Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm.’
He also ordered the suspension of road tolls across the state and activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard to prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Scott says in a statement that the initial 100 troops will be stationed throughout the state. Some 7,000 National Guard members will report to duty Friday, when the storm could be bearing down on Florida
Scott says tolls will be suspended to keep traffic flowing as residents begin to evacuate coastal areas in the potential path of the dangerous Category 5 storm.
The governor adds that tolls will remain suspended ‘for the duration of the storm’s impacts to Florida.’
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County’s mayor says residents and visitors should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach, as soon as Wednesday evening.
An NFL game to be played between the the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday has also been cancelled.
Water and basic foodstuffs are already flying off the shelves of some stores in Florida.
Pablo Rodriguez surveyed the empty water aisle at a Fort Lauderdale Winn Dixie with dismay, saying ‘I was hoping to get a few cases.’
The 65-year-old said he would have to try other shops, because ‘all the people are stocking up quick.’
Theresa Webster, 60, of Fort Lauderdale had heard water was sold out at Publix but still available at Winn Dixie, but there was none by the time she got there in the afternoon.
She was also stocking up on canned tuna, crackers and bread.
Said Webster: ‘I got some water already but I wanted more.’
By mid-day Monday, many grocery stores across South Florida had been emptied of bottled water and stores were hoping to restock beginning Tuesday morning.
States of emergency were also declared in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands where residents rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations.
People in Puerto Rico braced for electricity outages after the director of the island’s power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas without electricity for four to six months. But ‘some areas will have power (back) in less than a week,’ Ricardo Ramos told radio station Notiuno 630 AM. The utility’s infrastructure has deteriorated greatly during a decade-long recession, and Puerto Ricans experienced an island wide outage last year.
Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands expected four inches to eight inches of rain and winds of 40-50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph.
The governors of both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have submitted state of emergency declarations to the White House ahead of the storm.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says he has spoken to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and thanked him in a tweet for ‘the attention given to Puerto Rico’ ahead of the storm
Puerto Rico has announced a number of steps in preparation for the storm, including a 24-hour ban on the sale of alcohol starting 6am Wednesday.