The National Hurricane Centre officially upgraded Irma to a hurricane in its 11:00a.m. advisory.
Hurricane Irma is rapidly intensifying and its maximum sustained winds have increased to near 100 miles per hour with higher gusts making it a category 2 Hurricane. Irma is forecast to become a major hurricane by tonight and is expected to be an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles.
Irma’s 11:00a.m. location was near latitude 16.9 degrees North, longitude 33.8 degrees West and is moving to the west northwest at 10 miles per hour. This general motion is forecast through early Friday, followed by a generally westward motion on Saturday.
On this current track, Irma has the potential to affect the northeast Caribbean islands as a major category 3 or 4 hurricane next Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds possibly over 130 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Centre said Irma has moved somewhat south of and slower than all of the model guidance since yesterday. Consequently, it stayed longer over the warmer ocean temperatures away from the drier air to the north, possibly allowing the rapid strengthening that we are now seeing.
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is therefore urging all individuals in the Virgin Islands to monitor the progress of this system very closely and start putting precautionary measures in place to protect yourself, family and property.
Please assess your homes, businesses and surroundings to determine what measures or actions need to be taken in the event that Irma impacts the Territory. It is important that you take this time now to be ready for any potential effects that this system might have.
Persons within coastal communities, boaters and sea bathers should also be aware of the possibility of significant swells on the north shore, from Friday into the weekend.
We are therefore appealing to all individuals to monitor the weather and sea conditions for changes over the coming days and be prepared to take immediate actions to secure property and protect life.
As Irma approaches we will be providing regular updates and preparedness information to guide you on what you will need to do to be ready.
Please continue to monitor local media stations, DDM’s website (bviddm.com) and Facebook at BVIDDM for regular updates.
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: NOAA NHC