Powerful Category 4 Hurricane Irma aims at Caribbean islands - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Irma strengthens even more overnight. Now up to 150 mph winds. Dave's tracking areas that could be impacted, on Daybreak.

(NOAA via AP). This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Irma nearing the eastern Caribbean. Hurricane Irma grew into a powerful Category 4 storm Monday. (NOAA via AP). This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Irma nearing the eastern Caribbean. Hurricane Irma grew into a powerful Category 4 storm Monday.

By DANICA COTO
Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Officials across the northeastern Caribbean canceled airline flights, shuttered schools and urged people to hunker down indoors as Hurricane Irma barreled toward the region as a powerful Category 4 storm expected to strengthen more before nearing land late Tuesday.

States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of Florida while people on various Caribbean islands boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations.

Irma's maximum sustained winds increased to near 150 mph (240 kph) early Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was centered about 320 miles (515 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, cause landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters).

"This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane," U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp warned. "It's not time to get on a surfboard."

The storm's center was expected to move near or over the northern Leeward Islands late Tuesday and early Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm's progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.

"This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey," Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

In the Caribbean, hurricane warnings were issued for 12 island groups, including the British Virgin Islands, where the governor urged people to evacuate the tiny island of Anegada if they could ahead of the storm.

Vivian Wheatley, proprietor of the Anegada Reef Hotel, planned to stay behind. She said she would stay in one of the hotel rooms and take advantage of the generator since there were no guests.

"We know it's a very powerful (storm), and we know it's going to be very close," she said. "Let's hope for the best."

People in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico braced for electricity outages after the director of the island's power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas without electricity for four to six months. But "some areas will have power (back) in less than a week," Ricardo Ramos told radio station Notiuno 630 AM. The utility's infrastructure has deteriorated greatly during a decade-long recession, and Puerto Ricans experienced an island wide outage last year.

Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands expected 4 inches to 8 inches (10-20 centimeters) of rain and winds of 40-50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph.

A hurricane warning was posted for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. and British Virgin islands. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Guadeloupe and Dominica.

___

An earlier version of this report incorrectly said the island of Anegada was part of Antigua instead of the British Virgin Islands.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award

    Association removes Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from award

    Sunday, June 24 2018 11:53 AM EDT2018-06-24 15:53:42 GMT
    Sunday, June 24 2018 12:35 PM EDT2018-06-24 16:35:25 GMT
    A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award over concerns about the way the early-to-mid 20th century author portrayed blacks...More >>
    A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from a major children's book award over concerns about the way the early-to-mid 20th century author portrayed blacks and Native Americans.More >>
  • Former US poet laureate Donald Hall dies in New Hampshire

    Former US poet laureate Donald Hall dies in New Hampshire

    Sunday, June 24 2018 12:19 PM EDT2018-06-24 16:19:17 GMT
    Sunday, June 24 2018 12:35 PM EDT2018-06-24 16:35:23 GMT
    The daughter of former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall says he has died at age 8 at his home in Wilmot, New Hampshire.More >>
    The daughter of former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall says he has died at age 8 at his home in Wilmot, New Hampshire.More >>
  • Car dealers gear up for Saudi women to hit the roads

    Car dealers gear up for Saudi women to hit the roads

    Friday, June 22 2018 2:43 PM EDT2018-06-22 18:43:27 GMT
    Sunday, June 24 2018 12:35 PM EDT2018-06-24 16:35:21 GMT
    (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty). In this June 21, 2018 photo, Nour Obeid looks at cars at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This Sunday, Saudi Arabia will lift the world's only ban on women driving and Obeid's husband is encouraging her...(AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty). In this June 21, 2018 photo, Nour Obeid looks at cars at the Al-Jazirah Ford showroom in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This Sunday, Saudi Arabia will lift the world's only ban on women driving and Obeid's husband is encouraging her...
    Car companies are looking to boost their sales in Saudi Arabia by pitching their brands to women, who'll be allowed to drive for the first time starting Sunday.More >>
    Car companies are looking to boost their sales in Saudi Arabia by pitching their brands to women, who'll be allowed to drive for the first time starting Sunday.More >>
Powered by Frankly