Irma Plays Havoc with Eastern Caribbean Marinas

Category 4 Hurricane Irma is set to give the islands in the Easter Caribbean a battering today and now, say the London based reinsurance firm JLT Re has a 75 percent to 80 percent chance of making US landfall.

Yachting facilities ad marinas in Antigua and St Kitts are bracing themselves for impact and yesterday the Antgua Charter Yacht Show office sent out an e mail announciig their offices would be closed until the storm had passed

In a hurricane update published late last night the forecast for Irma had shifted further west from the previous day, and the storm will now most likely made landfall in Florida, at a probability of 50 percent to 60 percent.

“Unless interaction occurs with Cuba or Hispaniola, Irma is likely to make US landfall as a major hurricane,” JLT Re meteorologists said.

“If Irma misses Florida, it is still slightly higher odds that Irma turns early and eventually hits the southeastern US. A delayed turn to the north results in an ultimate track into the Gulf of Mexico, particularly given the model forecast trends of the past 48 hours.”

The latest update from the US National Hurricane Center

(NHC) is that Irma has now strengthened to a Category 4 storm.

NHC hurricane warnings are in place for several Caribbean islands, and the state of Florida has declared a state of emergency, according to the BBC.

Irma was set to reach the Leeward Islands, east of Puerto Rico, by late Tuesday or early Wednesday local time, the NHC added. The storm was moving at a speed of 20km/h (13mph).

The NHC also warned of storm surge threat, which could reach 4ft to 6ft in the British and US Virgin Islands, with the exception of St Croix.

Irma is expected to produce total rainfall of 3 to 6 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches across the northern Leeward Islands, the British and US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, it said.

It has been suggested that if Irma hits the mountainous regions in Cuba and Hispaniola, it could impede its major hurricane status.

However, if Irma stays just north of Cuba and Irma, it is likely Irma will maintain Category 3 or higher status.

Atmospheric and oceanic conditions remain very favourable for a strong hurricane. In fact, the ocean temperatures near the southern Bahamas and around Cuba are the most favourable in the entire basin for the strongest possible hurricane.