Harvey relief is barely underway, but Americans are already bracing for the impact of another potentially deadly storm. Hurricane Irma, which has been gaining strength in the Atlantic Ocean for the last week, was upgraded by the National Weather Service to a category 5 storm early Tuesday morning. With winds of 180 miles per hour, Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic.
As of Tuesday morning, the storm had reached is a few hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands, near Puerto Rico, moving west at 15 miles per hour. Forecasters expect Irma to hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday, then move through the northern half of the Dominican Republic, and then on towards Cuba. From there, the path is less clear. Irma could veer north to the southern coast of Florida or it could turn to the south of Cuba, avoiding the US entirely. It’s still too soon to forecast Irma’s exact path, but there is a significant chance it will strike at least a part of south Florida (which includes the Florida Keys) this weekend.
Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday to trigger the swift activation of resources for storm preparation across the state. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning Tuesday morning for parts of the Caribbean, including the US and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, urging any storm preparations “be rushed to completion.”
The National Weather Service called the storm “extremely dangerous” and estimates Irma could raise water levels by as much as 11 feet above normal tide levels on the coasts of the Leeward Islands and the storm itself could dump as much as 12 inches of rain on parts of the Caribbean, which could lead to flash flooding and mudslides.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two,” said the National Weather Service, “But Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.”
When will Hurricane Irma make landfall?
Here are the most recent (as of Tuesday 2:30pm eastern) storm-timing forecasts from the National Hurricane Center:
- Leeward Islands: Early Wednesday; tropical storm-force winds will arrive on Tuesday.
- Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Wednesday evening
- Dominican Republic/Haiti: Early Thursday
- Turks and Caicos: Early Friday
- Cuba: Late Friday into early Saturday
- Bahamas: Saturday
- Florida: Late Saturday into early Sunday (depending on the storm’s path)
Here is how you can track Hurricane Irma as it moves across the Caribbean:
Hurricane Irma storm tracker
Chart the storm’s progress with this live storm tracking map from WNYC (the widget is also tracking tropical storm Jose, so make sure “Hurricane Irma” is selected on the top left).
Hurricane Irma live web cams
As long as power and internet stay on, you can track Irma’s progress through these live web cams:
- Anguilla: Four Seasons Resort and Residences web cam—Located in Barnes Bay, Anguilla, looking west
- St. John: Great Expectations web cam—Located on the south shore of St. John, looking east over Rendezvous Bay towards the Leeward Islands
- Jost Van Dyke: Soggy Dollar Bar web cam—Located in White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, looking south towards St. John
- Puerto Rico: Caribe Hilton San Juan hotel web cam—Located on San Juan Beach in Puerto Rico, showing an aerial view of the waterfront
- Dominican Republic: Kite Beach Cabarete web cams—Located on Kite Beach on the north shore of the Dominican Republic, looking east and west
- Florida Keys: Marathon web cam—Located on Sombrero Beach on Marathon Key, looking south towards Cuba
- Florida Keys: Key West web cam—Located on Key West, looking onto the marina
- Additional web cams are located across the Florida Keys
- Should Irma make its way up the Florida coast, here are a few live web cams streaming from Miami Beach
Storm-chaser live stream
Professional storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski’s live stream from Rockport, Texas riveted the internet with gripping footage from the heart of Hurricane Harvey as it made landfall. Jeff has been posting Irma storm updates and here’s a link to his periscope page, where he’s likely to broadcast if he chooses to go live this weekend.