Hurricane Irma will continue to blast across the northern Caribbean into the weekend, spreading life-threatening winds, flooding and storm surge.
Hispaniola, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas will all face Irma’s wrath over the next couple of days as Irma tracks through the region and heads toward Florida and the southeastern United States coast.
Irma remains a powerful Category 5 hurricane, the highest on the Saffir-Simspon Hurricane Wind Scale. While Irma’s intensity may fluctuate over the next 24 to 48 hours, Irma will still remain dangerous and will bring life-threatening conditions.
Residents in Cuba and the Bahamas should be nearing completion on preparations for Irma.
“Impacts within the projected path of Irma include life-threatening wind, storm surge and flooding rainfall hazards,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos Islands and southern Bahamas will face the brunt of Irma into Friday morning.
The strongest winds are in the eye wall of the hurricane, which is expected to track near the Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas through Friday night.
As Irma continues to travel to the northwest through Saturday, northern Cuba and the central Bahamas will face the fury of powerful Irma.
By Saturday night, Irma will turn to the north and will spread severe impacts into Florida and the central and northern Bahamas.
“Any landmass within 185 miles of the storm's eye could see damage and any place within 50-60 miles of the hurricane's center could experience catastrophic damage,” Kottlowski said.
Widespread power outages and significant damage to trees and structures are expected in these areas. The power may be out for weeks in some areas.
Rough surf will spread outward from the storm and the strong winds from Irma will send a large and devastating storm surge across Turks and Caicos and Bahamas.
In addition to damaging winds, Irma will also bring heavy rain over the next couple of days. In mountainous areas, especially Hispaniola and Cuba, flash flooding will be a much higher risk due to the water being funneled into valleys. There will also be a high risk for mudslides and road washouts.
Weather conditions will improve on Friday for Hispaniola, and on Saturday for the Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas as Irma pulls away. Dangerous weather conditions will begin to lessen on Sunday in Cuba, and on Monday for the northern and central Bahamas.
Behind Irma, Hurricane Jose is churning about 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Jose is expected to track to the west through the weekend and will eventually take a turn to the northwest.
“This turn might bring the hurricane very close to the Leeward Islands during the day Saturday,” Kottlowski said.
If Jose makes a close pass to the Leeward Islands, gusty winds and rain could impact islands that were battered by Irma.