Irma continues to strengthen at a steady pace and is now a category three hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 115 miles per hour with higher gusts.
In its 5:00p.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Centre said Irma was located near latitude 17.3 degrees north, longitude 34.8 degrees west near 12 miles per hour (mph).
This motion is expected to continue today, followed by a westward turn on Saturday and a west-southwestward motion by Sunday.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles and the estimated minimum central pressure is 967 millibars.
Irma is predicted to strengthen to a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140mph over the next 4-5 days. Fluctuations in strength, both up and down, are possible, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane for several days.
Forecasters believe Irma will pass very close to the islands of the northeast Caribbean Wednesday through Thursday morning.
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is located in the northeast Caribbean and as such the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is encouraging all persons to use the time now to start making preparations for any potential impact.
Irma has the potential to cause significant rainfall, strong winds and storm surge across the Territory, if it moves into our area. Therefore, persons and businesses in low-lying flood prone communities will need to take steps to minimise or prevent flooding or make the decision to safer areas.
Now is a good time to check your roofs, clear roof gutters and drains around your property, inspect your cistern outflows to reduce any potential for flooding and land slippage. We are also encouraging individuals to place flood protection items such as flood boards and sand bags at their door ways to prevent or slow the flow of water into their homes and businesses.
We also recommend that you start removing or securing loose items or hanging signs around your property as the strong winds may cause unsecured items such as chairs and tables, to become projectiles having the potential to cause harm. Home owners and businesses are reminded to check your hurricane shutters to ensure they are functional.
This hurricane may also bring significant storm surge to coastal communities. Therefore, persons living in these areas must closely monitor the progress of this system and consider either moving inland.
The DDM will continue to monitor this system and will provide updates and preparedness information. Please ensure that you are able to access these updates and we urge you to act on the information that is being provided.
Information can be obtained from local media stations, DDM’s website (bviddm.com) and Facebook at BVIDDM.
Disclaimer: The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is not an official Meteorological Office. The Information disseminated by the Department is gathered from a number of professional sources used or contracted by the DDM to provide such information. This information is to be used as a guide by anyone who has interest in local weather conditions. By no means can the DDM or the BVI Government be held accountable by anyone who uses this information appropriately for legal evidence or in justification of any decision which may result in the loss of finances, property or life.
Photo Credit: Storm Geo