Hurricane Irma remains on the move. The death toll is now estimated at nearly two dozen after the now-Category Four storm ripped through the Caribbean.
Some 300 miles to the south, it appears Cayman is safely outside the range of Irma’s fury, but the storm is still a major threat to anything in its path. The National Weather Service today (8 September) issuing a flood warning for the sister islands.
HURRICANE IRMA’S TRACK AND LOCAL WEATHER IMPACT
Hurricane Irma, now a Category Four storm, is on a collision course with South Florida, with landfall expected Sunday (10 September) morning. The models have the eye of the storm threading the needle between the southern-most Bahamian islands and the Northeastern Cuban coast. That journey will take the greater portion of the next 24 hours. Irma’s turn to the north is expected to take place Saturday night, that will happen more than 100 miles before it reaches Havana. The most recent models show the turn happening to the north of the province of Matanzas.
From there, the storm is expected to cruise on to the north. Recent models have the storm making landfall near Naples, and continuing northward in the direction of Tampa.
Here at home we will see increased winds and seas. 10-15 knots around Grand Cayman, and 20-25 knots around the sister islands, and seas in the 6 to 8 foot range. The National Weather Service expects 1-to-3 inches of rain within a 24-hour period in the sister islands, which could lead to some flooding.
Small craft warnings are in effect for tonight and tomorrow for Grand Cayman and the sister islands.
The conditions have prompted the RCIPS to issue a warning to the public against water-related activities like boating, surfing, kite-surfing, snorkeling, swimming, or diving.
Acting superintendent Brad Ebanks called out potential thrill seekers.
“We have had incidents in the past where people’s lives were put in danger,” he said in a statement. “We ask that you do not risk your life and the lives of those who may try to save you.”
HURRICANE JOSE AND ROUND TWO FOR ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Meanwhile in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose, now a category four storm, is threatening the leeward islands, still reeling from Irma’s wrath.
All eyes are on Antigua and Barbuda as the twin island nation, still picking up the pieces from Irma, braces for another round that’s expected to hit tomorrow morning.
Fresh video out of Barbuda shows the extent of the crippling damage. Police officers had to run for cover after the police station had its roof ripped off in the storm. In Codrington, a Barbudan population centre, images showed the neighborhood was all but flattened. Trees were uprooted, and debris was strewn everywhere.
Journalist Kieron Murdoch observed the scene. He described the mood as they brace for Jose.
“There is that sense of uncertainly and that sense of agitation that is starting to stir in the population. But like I said there is a mandatory evacuation over there now and here in Antigua there is again that uncertainty where persons are wondering how badly is this hurricane going to hit them,” said Mr. Murdoch from Antigua.
300 were evacuated from Barbuda Thursday, and mandatory evacuations continued Friday.
IRMA’S IMPACTS IN NEIGHBORING CUBA
While the eye is expected not to travel over Cuba, Hurricane Irma is projected to brush the northeast Cuban coast. Reports from Guantanamo and Holguin provinces detailed heavy winds and rain.
Reports out of Havana said Cuban officials are responding to the affected areas, and other areas are being evacuated.
Presena Latina journalist Roberto Garcia Hernandez told Cayman 27, at least for now, the impact is lesser than anticipated.
“Most Eastern parts of Cuba there is more winds,” said Mr. Garcia. “Although the situation there has not been so bad as we thought it was going to be.”
Mr. Garcia said it is too early into Irma’s passage over Cuba to yet gauge the severity, but residents are hopeful it will not bring the devastation seen in other impacted areas.
MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE ROCKS MEXICO
At least 58 people are confirmed dead after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico and parts of Guatemala late last night. The quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Mexico in decades.
More than 50 million people felt the quake, including one woman with Cayman ties, who said the quake shook her from her slumber.
There have been reports of dozens of aftershocks, as many as 70 coming within the first few hours of the initial seismic event. Some of the aftershocks reached magnitudes in the 5 range.
KATIA SET FOR LANDFALL ALONG MEXICO’S EMERALD COAST
While Mexico is just beginning to understand the extent of the earthquake damage. Hurricane Katia is bearing down on Mexico’s emerald coast, a popular tourist destination.
In addition to high winds and heavy rain, the storms could trigger flash floods in the mountains to the west of the storm.