Hurricane monster Irma made “significant damage” to St-Barthélémy and St-Martin

News 6 September, 2017
  • AFP


    Wednesday, September 6, 2017 07:16

    Wednesday, September 6, 2017 07:21

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    Hurricane Irma, “of an unprecedented intensity on the Atlantic”, was hit Wednesday, the islands French Saint-Barthelemy and French-Dutch Saint-Martin, doing property damage, “significant”, according to a French minister.

    The hurricane category 5, the maximum on the intensity scale of the hurricane, is moving west-northwest at 22 km/h and now threatens Anguilla, the british virgin islands, the eastern tip of Puerto Rico and possibly Haiti.

    The eye of the cyclone, about 50 km in diameter, has remained at about 1: 30 on Saint-Barthélémy and then hit Saint-Martin. The sea “breaks out with extreme violence” on the shores, and there are “flooding major low-lying parts of the coast”, highlights Météo France.

    “The damage is already significant,” said Annick Girardin, the French minister of overseas, evoking “roofs torn off”.

    The hurricane, the size of France, had previously affected the island of Barbuda with winds of up to 295 km/h, according to the hurricane Center of the us. He forced the plane carrying pope Francis in Colombia to amend its plan of vol.

    The phenomenon, however, looks to have saved the French island of Guadeloupe, south of the west Indies, where the red alert cyclone was lifted Wednesday morning. The territory is spent in vigilance orange “heavy rain and thunderstorms” and “dangerous sea”.

    Irma “is already a hurricane historic” and “unprecedented intensity on the Atlantic”, according to Météo-France.

    It is now more powerful than hurricanes Luis (1995 St-Martin), Hugo (1989, 15 dead in Guadeloupe) and Harvey, who has recently hit Texas and Louisiana, killing at least 42 people dead and more than 100 billion of property damage.

    Winds at the “destructive power” will intensify on these two islands over a few hours. The paroxysm was expected between 06: 00 and noon, with gusts in excess of 300 km/h wind gusts have already been measured at 360 km/h. It is necessary to go back to 1988 with hurricane Gilbert, to find winds that are comparable.

    Precipitation downpours are also expected.

    “The house is shaking”

    The passage of the eye of the cyclone is accompanied by a “temporary lull and misleading”, such as a siphon that generates a centrifugal force and therefore of the vacuum. But it is immediately followed by the “wall eye”, “a wall of clouds and winds resulting in the most extreme conditions,” warns Jerome Lecou, a forecaster from Meteo France.

    Winds of 244 km/h have been identified in a first time on Saint-Barthelemy, says Météo France, who has lost his measuring instruments on the spot, swept away by the hurricane.

    “The winds are intensifying, the house is shaking”, stressed Bruno, aged 57, contacted by telephone on the French island. He who has already seen “Hugo, Maryline, Luis, Gonzalo, George”, believed that’the noise, Irma is much more violent than Gonzalo or Maryline. Compared to Hugo, we will know later”.

    The French minister of overseas, Annick Girardin, was expressed Wednesday “strong concern” of the government to St Barthelemy and St Martin, where approximately 7000 people have refused to put themselves “at the shelter”. The order had been given on Tuesday evening by the prefecture those living closer to the sea, in flood-prone areas, or subject to the swell navy, to take refuge in safe places.

    For the rest, there is “greater uncertainty” about Florida, ” said Mr. Lecou: Irma will affect the west coast? or the east coast? “Both scenarios remain plausible,” stressed the analyst.

    The us president, Donald Trump has placed the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida in a state of alert. The evacuation of the islands of Key West, the extreme south of Florida, is already underway.

    “I monitor the hurricane closely. My team, which has done and is doing a very good job in Texas, is already on-site in Florida”, tweeted the president.

    In Haiti, however, still not recovered from hurricane Matthew in October of last year, the population is barely warned of the arrival of Irma. The AFP has observed that in the poor neighborhoods of the country’s second city, Cap-Haïtien, with their shelters with roofs of sheet metal, which will not stand too violent winds, no one was aware.