Hurricane Irma continued to fortify Tuesday as an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm, prompting countries of crisis from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida — using the powerful storm forcing evacuations from the Florida Keys.
Irma’s maximum sustained winds had increased to near 185 mph, and the storm was located about 180 miles east of Antigua, moving west at 14 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its two p.m. ET advisory.
“Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the following day or two, but Irma is predicted to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days,” the NHC said.
Irma’s center was expected to move over parts of the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, and late 38, the attention of the storm was then expected to pass about 50 miles from Puerto Rico.
Fox News Senior Meterologist Janice Dean stated Irma is currently “one of the strongest hurricanes we’ve witnessed in the previous decade.”
Outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the NHC said Irma is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin’s history based on agency records.
Hurricane warnings were issued for 12 island groups in the Caribbean, including the British Virgin Islands, in which the governor urged people who would to flee the island of Anegada ahead of the storm.
TRACK HURRICANE IRMA AT MYFOXHURRICANE.COM
Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Rita in 2005, officials said. “Puerto Rico hasn’t seen a hurricane of the size in nearly 100 years,” Carlos Anselmi, a National Weather Service meteorologist at San Juan, told The Associated Press.
“Florida and the Southeast U.S. ought to be paying close attention to the prediction and some changes over the coming days, while South Florida and the Florida Keys should be preparing for potential consequences from a dangerous Category 4 hurricane that this weekend.”
The prediction for Irma stays catchy during the weekend as it means South Florida Saturday night. As a trough moves into the area, the storm is expected to create a turn, based on Dean.
“Florida and the Southeast U.S. ought to be paying close attention to the prediction and any changes over the coming days, while South Florida and the Florida Keys should be preparing for potential consequences from a dangerous Category 4 hurricane that this weekend,” she stated.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello cautioned that all decisions made in the next couple of hours can really make a difference between life and death.
Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain to portions of the Caribbean, cause flash floods that were dangerous and landslides and create waves of up to 23 ft.
“This isn’t an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp warned. “It is not time to get to a surfboard.”
While Irma’s potential impact on the U.S. mainland isn’t yet fully understood, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday to make sure “local governments have considerable time, flexibility and resources to become ready for this dangerous storm.”
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the very best and while the precise path of Irma isn’t absolutely known at this moment, we can’t afford to not be ready,” Scott said in a statement.
FLORIDA GOV. RICK SCOTT DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY AHEAD OF HURRICANE IRMA
Scott activated 100 Florida National Guard members Tuesday to assist with preparing for Irma, while officials issued mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents of the Florida Keys.
Monroe County officials stated a required visitor evacuation is expected to begin in midnight on Wednesday. Though some period hasn’t yet been put an evacuation for taxpayers will be issued.
Officials encouraged residents and tourists to begin evacuation plans and stated the earlier people leave the Keys, the less visitors they were likely to encounter.
“If ever there was a storm to take seriously from the Keys, this is it,” Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said in a statement. “The individuals leave. ”
U.S. 1 was the only path in and from the island chain off the southern peninsula of Florida.
Some residents across South Florida spent Labor Day rather than buying items for barbecues, stocking up on gear in case Irma nears.
“Obviously. We’ve got food, as you can see,” shopper Jacqueline Kimbrough informed WSVN of her trainings. “We’ve got our music. We have a fantastic time. We don’t worry about it and we beg.”
Individuals across South Florida were spending Tuesday stocking up on gear, causing many stories to run from generators and water, WSVN reported.
Clients at a Costco at Miami Lakes were lined up out the wholesale store until the moment doorways opened up in 10 a.m., and traces snaked throughout the store.
Further north on the Gulf Coast of Florida, residents spent Monday making sure that their disaster kits are ready for whatever the storm brings, also were not taking any chances.
“Definitely better now than when it’s too late,” Chance Burnett told FOX 13 Tampa as he loaded cases of water bottles to his brow.
“We have got a great deal of cases of water and a lot of canned foods, including tuna, Chef Boyardees,” said Burnett. “And then, we are on our way to Home Depot and now we are likely to stock up on flashlights and batteries.”
At Home Depot at Tampa, tarps, gasoline containers and generators were one of the most popular items. The generator shelves were restocked on Monday but were sold out from the day.
Assistant store manager Chrissy Lenze advised FOX 13 this week, a shipment is expected by the store, and they have tons of supplies.
“Mainly plywood, water, flashlights, tarps for later, sandbags to prepare,” Lenze said. “We want to be the final ones to shut, first ones to start during a storm.”
On Puerto Rico, that will sense Irma’s consequences residents braced for electricity outages after the director of the power firm of the island said that some regions could be left by storm damage .
Ricardo Ramos told radio channel Notiuno 630 AM “some regions will have electricity [back] in under a week.” The infrastructure of the utility has escalated considerably during a decade-long downturn, last year, and an outage was undergone by Puerto Ricans.
Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands expected 4 inches to 8 inches of rain and winds of 40-50 mph with gusts of around 60 mph.
The Category 5 storm to strike the United States was Hurricane Andrew in 1992. An estimated 250,000 were left homeless and the storm caused more than $20 billion in damage in Louisiana, Florida and the Bahamas. Fifty-five individuals were killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/