Puerto Rico Narrowly Avoided A Direct Hit From Hurricane Irma, But The Threat Of Heavy Flooding Remains

Hurricane Irma — still holding steady with 185 mph sustained winds as a Category 5 storm (and the strongest recorded in the Atlantic) — barreled through much of the Caribbean on Wednesday. The storm left St. Martin in shambles and cut off Barbuda from contact with the outside world. That island was almost completely destroyed, and currently, Berbuda’s death toll sits at one person. As for Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory expected the absolute worst but has received some good news, as Irma sideswiped the island. The storm’s eye passed north of Puerto Rico, yet heavy damage has still occurred despite the lack of a direct hit.

As seen in the above video clip (with additional clips below), the howling wind sounded almost like a train on Puerto Rico, which has seen power outages for at least 20% of its residents thus far. That percentage will likely increase, and those residents could remain without power for up to four months. Here’s a video clip of a power cable striking the ground and a capacitor explosion.

Much of the island is still feeling 100pm winds and has sustained “significant damage.” The threat of mudslides and ongoing flooding continues, and this clip shows rising water outside a building in the Condado neighborhood.

The U.S. territory’s authorities will begin to assess the full extent of Irma’s damage at daylight, but here’s a seaside view as winds and rainfall continue.

Despite the ongoing threat and the certain misery ahead for those without electricity, Puerto Rico’s residents must surely be breathing a “sigh of relief,” as these graphics suggest.

Irma’s future path is still subject to change (see a constantly updated map here), but Florida is almost certain to see a head-on collision at Category 5 status this weekend. The state will begin to feel the storm’s effects on Saturday, and U.S. mainland landfall is expected to occur by Sunday morning. According to the Weather Channel, the storm will then pass over all of Florida at either Category 4 or 5 status before sliding further up the east coast as a Category 3 hurricane.

Evacuation orders continue throughout Florida (including Miami Beach at noon on Thursday) as Irma approaches. Also on Wednesday, Hurricanes Katia and Jose developed in the Atlantic with Jose being most likely to increase in intensity and possibly strike the U.S. mainland at some point in the future.

(Via & CNN)