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Tracking Hurricane Irma: What you need to know

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The first 24 hours of hurricane Irma have proven deadly as storm remains category 5 heading up Caribbean islands.

Making landfall in Barbuda as a category 5 hurricane around 1:47AM Wednesday local time, hurricane Irma has taken a NNE approach up the Caribbean islands, hitting Aguilla and the Virgin Islands by that evening.

The damage is devastating as 95% of buildings have been affected and Prime Minister Gaston Browne has referred to the territories of Anguilla and Barbuda as “barely habitable.” The storm took the life of a two-year-old as a family was attempting to escape their damaged home.

The hurricane then ravaged the French territory St. Barthelemy, leaving two more dead in its wake. French President Emmanuel Macron lamented their death in a statement. It’s also estimated that 95% of French-Dutch territory St. Martin has been destroyed, as Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk has called the extent of the damage “enormous.”

By evening, the storm had maintained its speed of 185mph for over 30 hours, surpassing all previously tracked storms around the world since 1966, the first satellite tracking available. It expands 273 miles in diameter, roughly the distance from New York City to Washington D.C., with an eye approximately 22 miles across.

Puerto Rico was next in line to be hit but managed to miss the brunt of the storm as it followed a NNW path, only partially hitting San Juan. Even so, as nightfall came over the U.S. territory, 900,000 are left without power and 50,000 are without water. Due to a patchy energy grid, dark spots are expected to last up to as many as six months.

The next victims of the hurricane will likely be Turks and Caicos as it continues its path as a category 5 storm, and we likely have not seen the worst of it. Projections are being updated constantly and those in the affected areas have been advised to seek shelter if they haven’t already been evacuated.

Sally Suarez

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