Hurricane Irma is poised to be the strongest Atlantic storm ever
In the wake of the devastating Hurricane Harvey, just a week later, Hurricane Irma is surging through the Eastern Caribbean. Wind speeds at the Leeward Islands have been measured at 185 miles per hour, designating it as “potentially catastrophic", particularly to small islands like Barbuda, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Since Irma passed through the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda, all contact with the island has been lost, according to diplomacy channels. It is unknown what the death toll is. The tiny island of 1,600 may have been completely devastated, but we don't know yet for certain. They have been out of communication with the rest of the world for hours.
Miami-Dade county is prepared to evacuate, but the smaller, poorer Caribbean countries impacted by Irma will have less access to first aid and recovery funds. When disasters strike the developing world, the damage doesn't fade, in a phenomenon called 'environmental racism' by sociologists and political theorists.
Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are all directly threatened. The storm is expected to hit the Florida mainland on Sunday morning, giving plenty of time for residents to prepare there.
Flooding and damage has been extensive in St. Martin and the wider French Caribbean.
Buildings shook and houses' rooftops were torn clean off. The Gulf of Mexico is notorious for reducing such massive hurricanes, as the warm waters can create dangerous and drastic temperature differences that result in snap storms.
Puerto Rico is expecting between 8 and 12 inches of rain, which compared to Harvey's disastrous 50+ inches, seems like a relief. The hurricane's damage seems to be totally unequal, however. It has directly walloped Barbuda - and the more massive hurricanes we get, the more likely that one will be an island-destroying disaster.
The island of Antigua was expected to be smashed by the full might of the storm, but luckily, it has so far received only the glancing impact of winds and rain, not the mass-destruction that was expected. This is immensely fortunate, as Antigua does not have massive disaster relief funds. But Barbuda faces a different story.
Ironically, it seems Donald Trump has something to fear from Irma. His five-acre “Castle of the Palms” estate is on the island of St. Martin, which has suffered some moderate-high damage so far from the storm. The extent of the damage is currently unknown, but if it gets destroyed, perhaps Donald Trump will re-evaluate the increasing severity of climate change in the decades to come. Historically, people tend to get more serious about issues once they are personally affected. It's just the way human nature seems to work.
President Trump, taking in the total picture of the hurricane, came across exasperated and excited in his remarks:
The eye of the storm looks decidedly eerie, a choppy almost digital-looking swirl at the center of the rotating white cloudbank winds.
Hurricane season will be at an end after Irma, and the reign of terror enforced by the late-August climate will come to an end. Meteorologists will have a lot to swallow after witnessing such massive hurricanes, one after the other. Climate change is not the sole culprit, but certainly, if we continue to see record-breaking storms, it will have been a factor. More to come on the status of the small island of Barbuda.