With Harvey gone, all eyes turn to Irma – Boston Herald

Florida and the Caribbean are bracing for Hurricane Irma, which is expected to gain strength over the next 24 hours and could potentially cause “catastrophic” damage, according to weather authorities.

The Sunshine State, the Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico all issued advisories in preparation for the intensifying storm that could strike the area with life-threatening winds, storm surges and torrential rain by tonight, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Irma yesterday was a Category 4 hurricane, meaning it had winds of 130-156 mph. A hurricane of this strength could cause “catastrophic” outcomes, including uprooted trees, downed power lines, water and electricity outages and significant property damage causing uninhabitable conditions, according to the Miami-based hurricane center.

William Babcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the eye of the storm is expected to pass just north of Puerto Rico tomorrow. The storm then is projected to pass just north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic Thursday, he said.

As of yesterday, Irma packed 130 mph winds. It was projected to threaten the U.S. East Coast and Florida, which last night declared a state of emergency. The hurricane center expects  Irma to reach southern Florida by  Saturday.

“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend. In addition, rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern U.S. coast by later this week,” the center said.

The Puerto Rican government yesterday declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard.

“Despite the economic challenges Puerto Rico is facing, the approved budget has $15 million for the emergency fund,” Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a statement.

The island of about 3.4 million people has 456 emergency shelters prepared to house more than 62,000 people. Irma will be the second powerful hurricane to thrash the United States and its territories in consecutive weeks.

Residents in Texas and Louisiana are still reeling from the devastating effects of deadly Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas as a Category 4 hurricane Aug. 25 and dumped several feet of rain, destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

Unlike Harvey, Irma is not expected to douse impacted areas with record-breaking rain, Babcock said.

“This storm, on the other hand, is moving along at a steady clip, typical for the tropics. It’s moving and expected to continue to move. We’re not expecting it to stall any place.

“So the rain effects that we saw in Texas are not expected,” he said.

Herald wire services contributed to this report.



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