Islands of the northeast Caribbean are bracing for impact as Hurricane Irma churns its way over the Atlantic Ocean.
The powerful Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles-per-hour has slightly intensified and is expected to strengthen through Tuesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane watches are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts.
The NHC advised Monday that islands farther north, including the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, should monitor the progress of Irma.
Forecasts predict that the center of Irma will pass over or near the Leeward Islands by Tuesday, and that swells generated by Irma will begin affecting the islands as early as Monday with the potential to cause “life-threatening surf and rip current condition,” the NHC said.
The storm – located several hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands – is moving toward the west-southwest and a turn toward the west is expected later Monday followed by a west-northwestward turn late Tuesday.
The path of Irma could potentially affect the East Coast of the US, but it remains too early for meteorologists to make that prediction.
Still, the possibility that the storm could hit the US anywhere from South Florida to New England has officials from the American Red Cross prepping.
Red Cross officials told CBS affiliate WNCN-TV that the need for aid in hard-hit Texas from the deadly Hurricane Harvey remains high, but that resources may be shifted toward North Carolina depending on the path Irma takes.
“We put a hold on sending volunteers from the mid-Atlantic states,” Regional Executive Officer Barry Porter told the news outlet. “There is still a lot of other states to send volunteers from, but because of this pending threat to Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, we’ve asked those volunteers to hold, update their records, and help us here in the Carolinas if we need them.”
Porter added, “With this East Coast threat of Irma coming late this week we’re really concerned.”
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said government agencies in the US territory were gearing up to deal with any storm-related emergencies.
Rossello warned locals of flooding and power outages as he noted that 4 to 8 inches of rain were expected, along with winds up to 50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph.
“We have established protocols for the safety of all,” Rossello said.
With Post Wires