Irma remains “extremely dangerous,” with winds of 150 mph
The hurricane was forecasted to hit the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and move north across the state. At this point, it gained strength, with officials upgrading it to a Category 4 storm as maximum sustained winds reached 130 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years.
As at least 20 people have died because of the storm in the Caribbean, Florida has been preparing for days now, with officials directing 6.5 million residents to leave their homes in one of the largest emergency evacuations in American history. There are some key questions regarding the storm that still remain unanswered and these will ultimately determine where its most devastating effects occur.
Image source: NY Times
37 hours of strong winds
Irma sustained 185-mph winds for 37 hours, the longest any cyclone in the world has maintained at such intensity. Super Typhoon Haiyan held the record since 2013, when it maintained winds for 24 hours at that level.
The Caribbean islands were severely hit
Irma lashed the southern Bahamas on Friday with intense winds and rain, leaving a trail of downed trees and power lines, damaged roofs and scattered debris. On the island of Barbuda, the hurricane destroyed as much as 95% of the buildings.