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What Was Hurricane Irma?

Where Was Hurricane Irma?

The state of Florida evacuated people from it in August of 2017.  Hurricane Irma was going to be a category 5 storm that would make landfall throughout the state. 

It was supposed to have the same type of winds that hurricane Katrina had in 2005.  Floridians feared for the worse. Business owners were fearful that their businesses would be destroyed, and others ran for their lives.  Hurricane Katrina had taken nearly 2,000 lives and people living in Florida feared that hurricane Katrina might take theirs as well. 

The storm Irma was a Cape Verde Hurricane.  This means that the storm was in the Atlantic Ocean.  It begins at a low altitude.  It is a tropical storm that passes over the Cape Verde Islands. Hurricane Irma did cause a lot of damage.

The Leeward Islands never had a storm like Hurricane Irma. They got hit with it in September of 2017.  Hurricane Maria also struck these Islands only 2 weeks later. 

The problem with Irma is that it lasted for a long time.    The Florida Keys and the Caribbean took most of the Impact from Irma.  Hurricane historians say that Irma was the most powerful storm to impact the United States since 2005 with Katrina. 

When Irma hit the keys, it was the first major hurricane since Wilma.  It was also the first hurricane to make landfall on Florida as a category four storm since Charlie.  People began calling hurricane Charlie Armageddon. 

On August 30th, weather experts saw that hurricane Irma had formed as a tropical wave in 2017.  By August 31, it had become a strong hurricane three storm. For several days, meteorologists saw this hurricane go back and forth between a category 2 and 3 storms.  It had a few eyewall replacements cycles. 

However, on September 4th, weather experts saw this hurricane turn into a category 4 storm.  On September 5th, it was a strong category 5 storm.  On September 6, 2017, Irma had wind speeds of 180 miles per hour.  This looked even worse than hurricane Katrina. 

Luckily another eyewall replacement cycle caused Irma to drop back down to a category 4.  However, when it made landfall in Cuba, it was a category 5.  For A while, the storm did become a hurricane 2 storm while passing over Cuba.  However, the category 2 stage did not last for long. It began to get stronger again and turned into a category 4 storm once again.

The storm began moving towards the straits of Florida and hit Cudjoe Key.  Afterwards Irma became a category 3 storm as it landed on Marco Island during the same day.  It went on to hit Alabama and then onto Missouri on September 13th.

Where Did Hurricane Irma Cause Catastrophic Damage?

  • Virgin Islands
  • Barbuda
  • Anguilla
  • Saint Barthelmy
  • Saint Martin

Hurricane Irma took an estimated 125 lives.  It was far less than hurricane Katrina, but still significant for a hurricane.  In 2017, the keyword term “hurricane Irma” was the most searched term on Google. 

The National Hurricane Center started to track this tropical wave on August 26, 2017.  The National Hurricane Center is responsible for tracking hurricanes for the United States.  The storm was originally in Western Africa. 

The storm left West Africa on August 27th

Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

The sovereign states of Barbuda and Antigua started to prepare for the impact of hurricane Irma.  Emergency helpers were put on standby in hospitals and shelters on September 5, 2017. 

Barbuda was told that they were about to take a direct hit from Irma.  All the residents took shelter and embraced for the worst.  In Saint Lucia, swimmers and people operating small airplanes were put on alert.  Hurricane Irma was showing no signs of slowing down.

In Guadeloupe, there was fear of flooding. People also evacuated their homes.  Businesses and schools were shut down right around September 5th.  Hospitals were storing around 3 days of supplies.  It also prepared its backup generators in case power got lost. 

On September 4, 2017, Puerto Rico went into a state of emergency.  Emergency supplies were flown in that included: blankets, food and medical supplies. 

Hurricane Irma in Florida

On September 4, 2017, Rick Scott (governor of Florida) declared a state of emergency.  There were approximately 100 national guardsmen on duty to assist in operations.  On September 8, all 7,000 soldiers were on duty.

The state of Florida was working closely with electrical companies such as FPL (Florida Power and Light) to restore electric as fast as possible when it goes out.  They had around 24,000 electrical restoration employees/contractors ready to restore power. 

The governor Rick Scott also suspended all tolls in Florida so that Floridians and its visitors can leave Florida quickly. Between September 8th and 11th, schools and most government agency buildings were closed.  On September 9th, 150 state parks closed. 

There were approximately 700 emergency shelters that opened throughout the state of Florida.  Florida also opened 60 special needs shelters as well.  Airports were also closed.  Around 9,000+ flights were cancelled to land in Florida.  Throughout the coasts of Florida, seaports were also closed. 

Yes, even Wal Disney World closed completely.  This was the 5th time that it had been shut down during its 45-year history.  There were approximately 6.5 million Florida residents that were ordered to evacuate. 

What Happened When Hurricane Irma Hit?

On September 6th, hurricane Irma hit Barbuda.   Barbuda is in the eastern Caribbean.  This powerful storm destroyed or severely damaged around 95% of the structures.  It brought great damage to hotels, hospitals and it destroyed its two hotels.  In many streets, it flattened entire neighborhoods.  The airport had to be closed because it had no power and was severely damaged.  It is estimated that it had around 300 million dollars in damages. 

What Happened in Saint Martin?

Hurricane Irma hit Saint Martin on September 6, 2017.  It swept away many structures and swept away many cars and destroyed roads.  It also caused power outages.  It literally ripped trees from their roots and threw them all over the place.

Debris was flying everywhere and often destroying stores and signs.  There was around 950 million dollars in damages. 

Here is a List of the Most Intense Hurricanes Ever Recorded in History:

  • Dean – 2007
  • Dorian – 2019
  • Katrina – 2005
  • Cuba – 1924, 1932
  • Gilbert – 1988
  • Camille – 1969
  • Janet – 1955
  • Michael – 2018

What Can We Learn from Hurricane Irma?

Hurricane Irma taught us that stronger hurricanes than Katrina are beginning to surface. Even hurricane Dorian was bigger than Katrina and would have been more catastrophic if it did land in the state of Florida. 

Hurricanes like Irma are teaching the world that you must evacuate when you hear of a storm coming into your area and prepare well in advance.  It teaches us to never underestimate the power of these storms because they are becoming much more severe. 

It seems that in the future, we may want to start moving more inland if you live on a coast where hurricanes can hit your home and community.  It would be hard to live year around in a home that is on the coasts of Florida because there is a high chance that you will get hit by a hurricane at some point.

It’s best to start preparing for the future now. I believe that hurricane Irma and Dorian were two major predicters of where weather is going to take us in the future.  Hurricanes are becoming much more active now than ever before in recorded history. 

It takes just one hurricane to destroy your entire life.  If a major hurricane hits your area, you could experience job loss or layoffs.  The business that you work in could be destroyed or out of business for several months and even years.

I believe that we are living in historic times and hurricanes are becoming much more active in Florida and along the east coast.  Even North Carolina has been receiving hurricane warnings along the coast.  It’s tough to say when the next major hurricane is going to hit. However, preparing for your future is necessary.

Always have a hurricane emergency plan in place. You need to know where you and your family will go during an emergency. Can you stay with a relative in another state if you must evacuate?  Do you have enough money for temporary housing somewhere else? 

You can stay in a campground that is relatively inexpensive during a hurricane.  If you live in Florida and evacuate into Kentucky, you may find that its only around $200.00 a month to pitch a tent and stay on the campgrounds. 

You can use their showers and stay there until your area has been okay to go back into. If you can afford to buy an RV, you can live in that in another state while the hurricane passes by as well.  You can park your RV in a state like Kentucky or Tennessee.  No matter where you decide to live, its important for you to have a plan that works for you and your family.