MIAMI – The eye of Category 5 Hurricane Irma is moving near the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) and is heading towards the Bahamas.
The Hurricane is located about 85 km west-southwest of the Grand Turk Island and about 145 km off the eastern coast of the Great Inagua island in the Bahamas.
Although its intensity is expected to fluctuate in the next 48 hours, it will remain a “powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane” as it is moving towards the west and northwest at 26 km/h, experts warned.
Irma is then expected to move towards the northern part of Cuba and then Florida.
Don Dixon, a meteorologist at the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, told EFE that it is still too early to say where the eye of Irma will make landfall in South Florida due to the variations that may occur, but it is very likely that Florida residents will begin to experience strong winds caused by the approaching Hurricane on Saturday afternoon.
Authorities have issued a hurricane and cyclone storm watch for the next 48 hours in the areas stretching from Jupiter Cove to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys, on the southern end of the state, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.
Several parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Santo Espiritu and Villa Clara, are also under hurricane alert.
In Florida, residents in Monroe, Broward and parts of Miami-Dade counties have been told to evacuate due to the potentially catastrophic effects of Irma, the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history.
Eleven tropical storms have formed so far in 2017, six of which converted into hurricanes.
During Irma’s passage through the Dominican Republic, heavy winds and rainfall wrecked several northern communities of the country, leading to extensive property damages.
Strong waves swept away eight houses located in the coastal neighborhood of Playa Oeste in the Puerto Plata province, and knocked down three more in La Piedra, a small community in Los Charamicos.