What we know about hurricanes Irma and Jose: Facts, figures, forecast
Hurricane Irma, was weakened to Category Four on Saturday and then to a Category 3, with 125 mile-an-hour wind, is expected to strengthen before hitting Florida Keys, while Category 4 Jose has already affected many Caribbean islands.world Updated: Sep 10, 2017 10:18 IST
Hurricane Irma has pounded the Caribbean, leaving at least 25 people dead, destroying thousands of homes and triggering a mass evacuation in the US state of Florida.
After making landfall in Cuba’s Camaguey archipelago late Friday, Irma is now bearing down on Florida, where authorities have ordered 6.3 million people to evacuate.
Irma, previously a top-rated Category Five storm, weakened Saturday to Category Four and then to a Category Three, packing 125 mile-an-hour winds (205 kilometer per hour). It was expected to strengthen again before hitting the Florida Keys.
A second Category Four hurricane, Jose, is following part of Irma’s track, affecting many Caribbean islands that have already suffered catastrophic damage. But it is expected to veer north and pose no threat to the United States.
Toll from Irma
The death toll stands at least 25: 12 in the French island of St Barts and the Dutch-French territory of St Martin; six in British Caribbean islands; at least four in the US Virgin Islands; at least two in Puerto Rico; and one in Barbuda.
The International Red Cross says 1.2 million people have already been affected by Irma — a number that could rise to 26 million.
The bill for loss and damage could hit $120 billion (100 billion euros) in the United States and Caribbean, according to data modelling firm Enki Research.
Irma hit the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda on Wednesday with winds up to 295 kph. The island suffered “absolute devastation,” with up to 30 percent of properties demolished, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.
One person is known to have died on the island of 1,600 residents, apparently a child whose family was trying to get to safer ground.
St Barts, St Martin and Anguilla
Irma then slammed into the holiday islands of St Barts and St Martin, wielding monster winds and torrential rain.
St Martin is divided between France and the Netherlands. France said 10 people had died on its side, while the Netherlands said the storm killed two on the Dutch side, called Sint Maarten.
On the Dutch side, 70% of the infrastructure has been destroyed.
Debris still clogs the streets, many homes are uninhabitable, communications are still down, tens of thousands are without food, water or power, and the authorities are struggling to prevent looting.
In the British archipelago of Anguilla, one man was crushed to death in a house collapse.
British Virgin Islands
Five people have been killed in the British Virgin Islands, according to the local government.
Just east of Puerto Rico, it is home to roughly 28,000 people and includes British billionaire Richard Branson’s Necker Island.
US Virgin Islands
At least four people have been killed in the US Virgin Islands, officials told AFP.
At least two people were killed in the US territory of Puerto Rico, and more than half of its three million residents were without power after rivers broke their banks in the centre and north of the island.
Some 20,000 people were evacuated and more than 2,000 homes affected by floods in the Dominican Republic, the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, which is also shared by Haiti.
Irma brought flooding and caused several injuries in Haiti, but passed further north than had been forecast, sparing the impoverished island the worst. A number of roads were washed out.
Irma made landfall on the island’s Camaguey Archipelago late Friday. Close to a million people have left their homes to stay with relatives or in shelters and the electricity supply cut as a precautionary measure.
Cuba had already evacuated 10,000 foreign tourists from beach resorts and raised its disaster alert level to maximum ahead of Irma’s arrival.
Irma: Where next?
Irma is expected to strike the Florida Keys early Sunday, tracking along the peninsula’s western coast, which faces the Gulf of Mexico, rather than the more heavily populated Atlantic side, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
But the storm is so wide that the authorities have ordered 6.3 million people — more than quarter of Florida’s population — to evacuate and many residents have joined a mass exodus.
The US military is mobilising thousands of troops and deploying several large ships to help with evacuations and humanitarian relief.
A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Georgia ordered the evacuation of the city of Savannah and other coastal areas.
Hurricanes Jose and Katia
Hurricane Jose, after strengthening to Category 4 status, was expected to pass by St Martin and St Barts late Saturday at a distance of around 100 kilometres (60 miles).
France’s meteorological agency warned of a “dangerous event of exceptional intensity” with 120 kph winds, waves of between six and eight metres (19-26 feet) and up to 100 millimetres (four inches) of rain.
Another hurricane, Katia, made landfall in eastern Mexico late Friday killing two people, just as the country grappled with damage inflicted by its worst earthquake in a century.