Hurricane Irma has left catastrophic results after it passed over the Caribbean Island of Barbuda on Wednesday, leaving at least 10 deaths. Barbuda – a country with a small population – ended up almost devastated, according to its Prime Minister, Gaston Browne. Today, experts say Irma is arriving in the northeastern Dominican Republic.

Experts consider Irma as one of the most powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic that has been recorded, reaching almost the size of France. The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that this storm has sustained wind speeds of 285km/h (180mph), and considers it “a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.”

Image Credit: Telegraph
Wrecked boats in Barbuda. Image Credit: Telegraph

The massive storm has already impacted Antigua and Barbuda, St. Barthélemy, St. Martin, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands, along with the United States’ Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

According to Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency, around 50,000 people ended up without water after Irma, and a million people without power. In the French territory of Saint-Martin, officials said that the third largest airport in the Caribbean, Saint-Martin’s airport, suffered several damages.

Irma will hit Florida on this weekend, where it probably will have its landfall. Millions of Floridians have already taken the necessary precautions, forcing them to make large lines to buy water and food. After the Publix in Davie – near Fort Lauderdale – was left without water, the store posted a sign saying that they are still “waiting for deliveries. Estimated time of arrival is unknown!”, CNN reported.

Irma is hitting the Dominican Republic on early Thursday

Northeast Dominicans started seeing on early Thursday the first signs of the arrival of the Category 5 Hurricane Irma – according to Bolivar Ledesma, a meteorologist at the National Meteorological Office (Onamet) of the Dominican Republic.

Clouds caused by Irma began to spread over the La Mona Canal and the easternmost border of the country. Following that event, the Dominican weather observatory of Punta Cana Airport reported very-heavy rains.

Dominican officials estimated that Irma would continue with its current movement and expected trajectory between dawn and early hours of Thursday, on the northeast of Cabo Engaño, near Punta Cana, (La Altagracia). The winds might vary depending on the area, reaching velocities between 75 and 150 km.

Waves caused by Irma crashing against a sea wall in Puerto Rico. Image Credit: Alvin Baez / Reuters
Waves caused by Irma crashing against a sea wall in Puerto Rico. Image Credit: Alvin Baez / Reuters

Onamet officials also said that the people from Cabo Engaño to the Bay of Manzanillo (Montecristi), placed on the northern coast of the country, along with people from Cabo Engaño to Pedernales, on the south coast, should keep alert because those are the areas where Irma will strike the most.

The Dominican Republic under red alert

Nagua, Cabrera, Matancitas, Gaspar Hernández and other nearby areas, are expected to present coastal flooding after Irma reaches the northeast of Cabo Engaño. The experts not only predict rainfalls of between 150 and 300 mm – even higher in other areas of the tropical system -, but also strong waves with heights between 10 and 20 feet.

In the Dominican Republic, a total of 17 provinces – including the capital, Santo Domingo – are on red alert (maximum), 12 on yellow alert (intermediate) and three on green (minimum). Haiti, which has not completely recovered after last year’s Hurricane Matthew, is also under alert.

Since Monday, the Dominican Government has been in permanent session and has adopted contingency plans for the recovery of the country after Hurricane Irma passes over the Dominican Republic and continues with its trajectory.

“From this moment on, we are in a state of continuous monitoring,” said Jose Ramon Peralta, minister to the president, in the Monday emergency meeting held by the Dominican President Danilo Medina – Reuters reported.

Hurricane Irma's trajectory and relative wind speed. Image Credit: NOAA / NPR
Hurricane Irma’s trajectory and relative wind speed. Image Credit: NOAA / NPR

Several airlines will wait after Irma to begin presenting their services again

Almost all of Dominicans income comes from tourism, which will be affected because of Irma.

The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular destinations for U.S. citizens behind Mexico, Canada, and the U.K – around 2.8 million Americans visited the Caribbean country in 2015, an increase of 3 percent compared to the year before.

The beaches affected by Irma are the primary motive why Americans choose to go to the Dominican Republic. However, cultural history is also one of the first reasons, mainly because of the capital, Santo Domingo, which is the oldest city in our continent and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

However, people can’t go to the Dominican Republic because most airlines decided to pause their flights until Irma finishes its trajectory. On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department said that Americans should “carefully reconsider (to) travel” to the Caribbean country.

U.S. President Donald Trump is following Irma’s trajectory. However, he told reporters at the White House that “it looks like it could be something that will be not good… Believe me, not good.”

Source: Newsweek