Hurricane Irma is devastating the Caribbean

Hurricane irmaNOAAHurricane Irma barreling toward the eastern Caribbean, as captured by satellite on Tuesday.

Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recorded history, slammed several Caribbean islands with Category 5 winds on Wednesday, leaving a path of destruction that we’re just starting to see.

So far Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barts have all taken direct hits from the storm.

Irma first made landfall in Barbuda — an island with a population of about 1,600  — around 1:47 a.m. ET Wednesday. Local weather stations there captured wind gusts of 250km/h before going silent, indicating the instruments had been blown away. Irma’s sustained winds have been reported at 295km/h.

According to The Associated Press, the island was hit hard enough to cut off all communication, and major damage has been reported. Winds even tore the roof off Barbuda’s police station. 

By around 8 a.m. ET, the eye wall of the storm had reached Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barts, causing widespread, severe damage, as photos and videos from those islands and others nearby show.

The US and British Virgin Islands were hit by the storm on Wednesday afternoon as well.

According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Irma is near Puerto Rico. The island is already feeling heavy effects from the storm, with hundreds of thousands without electricity. Some may not get power back for four to six months.

Luckily, the eye-wall of the storm seems to be passing north of the island, avoiding a direct hit on Puerto Rico.

After that, the forecast shows the storm putting the Bahamas in danger. Over the weekend, Irma could potentially hit South Florida or travel up the state’s east coast, though it is wide enough to affect the entire state.

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