A Hurricane Watch is in effect for much of the local area and is likely to be upgraded to a Warning today, Monday, as Irma approaches. The cyclone was some 843 miles East of St. Maarten on Sunday evening and moving West (260 degrees) at about 14 miles per hour, with a West to West-Southwest motion expected.
Maximum sustained winds were near 115 miles per hour with higher gusts, making it a category 3 hurricane that was predicted to strengthen even further. The only good news seems to be that the system is rather small, so that winds of hurricane force extended outward only 35 miles and of tropical storm force 140 miles from the centre.
This means that exactly where Irma passes Tuesday night into Wednesday can make a big difference, but counting on a near miss would be a big mistake, especially because the forecast track has already shifted considerably several times. The latest indications are that the storm is pretty much headed straight for the Northeastern Caribbean, so people should definitely prepare for the worst.
Marine conditions were expected to start deteriorating soon and small craft operators as well as sea-bathers have been called on to exercise caution and keep updated. The latter counts for everyone and includes official announcements regarding safety measures.
That people are getting nervous is understandable, but there’s no reason to panic either. Precautions such as lowering the level in Great Salt Pond are well underway and military assistance has been requested.
It’s important to be in a state of readiness, but also to stay calm and closely follow instructions. Obey the authorities and – whatever you do – don’t get in their way.