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Life-threatening and catastrophic conditions will continue across the northern Caribbean as Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels through into Friday.
Irma strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 km/h) on Tuesday, becoming the strongest storm in the Atlantic Basin since Wilma in 2005.
Irma has already proved destructive across the northern Leeward Islands.
The eye of Irma passed over the British Virgin Islands on Wednesday afternoon, devastating the islands and parts of Puerto Rico.
Widespread power outages and significant damage to trees and structures are likely where the eye of the storm passes directly over or makes its closest approach. The power may be out for weeks in some communities.
Rainfall will be heavy enough to trigger flash flooding, mudslides and road washouts.
“Farther to the west, residents and interests on Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and eastern Cuba should closely monitor the progression of Major Hurricane Irma,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
A track near or over these locations is becoming increasingly likely towards the end of the week, which would bring life-threatening conditions to residents and any vacationers.
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"The projected track still takes Irma just north of Hispaniola on Thursday, and very close to the Turks and Caicos and the southern Bahamas late Thursday and Thursday night," Kottlowski said.
The greatest impacts would be felt Thursday and Thursday night for Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
By Friday, Cuba and the Bahamas could begin to be severely impacted with flooding rainfall and high winds. These areas should prepare for devastating and life-threatening hurricane conditions.
Rough surf will spread outward from the storm, leading to dangerous boating conditions along the north-facing beaches of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola and east-facing beaches of the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas, where a large and devastating storm surge can also occur. Small craft should remain in port until Irma has passed.
Fluctuations in Irma’s strength and track are expected over the next couple of days; however, anyone in the path of the storm should take the storm very seriously.
All interests along the U.S. East Coast should closely monitor the forecast path of Irma this week and review emergency and evacuation procedures in case they need to be implemented.
Behind Irma, Jose formed hundreds of miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands on Tuesday morning. It is expected to strengthen further, after becoming a hurricane on Wednesday afternoon. Jose may enhance showers and surf over the northern Leeward Islands this weekend.
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