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On Wednesday morning, local time, the hurricane is going to devastate the northeastern Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Anguilla.
The hurricane is moving a little bit to the north. The eye is travelling across the sea at a speed of 15mph.
### Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic
In line for the hurricane are Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Barthelemy, both British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the north coast of the Dominican Republic
The winds created are much higher than the speed at which the weather system moves. Hurricane-force winds gusting in excess of 200mph extend outward, with very strong gusts 60 miles from the centre.
Dangers from what the NHC calls “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane” include “A life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves.”
In the Turks and Caicos Islands and the south-eastern Bahamas, water levels could possibly rise by 20 feet.
Almost tsunami-like conditions will be present in the Virgin Islands, with land under up to 11 feet of water.
In addition, says the NHC, "heavy rains associated with Irma “could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides”.
The NHC says: “The chance of direct impacts from Irma beginning later this week and this weekend from wind, storm surge, and rainfall continues to increase in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula. However, it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of these impacts.”
There are fears it could be the worst weather event since Hurricane Andrew a quarter-century ago. Back then, there was wide destruction across South Florida. The Governor, Rick Scott, is taking no chances. He has declared a state of emergency across Florida, which President Trump has elevated to a federal emergency.
More than 1,000 tactical high wheeled trucks are on standby, as are 13 helicopters. Grocery store shelves are full with water and other emergency resources.
On Tuesday Governor Scott temporarily abolished all road tolls across the entire state, saying: “Suspending tolls statewide will help people quickly evacuate and make it easier for all Floridians to access important hurricane supplies to ensure they are fully prepared.”
### The hurricane distupts plane schedules
British Airways is way ahead of its rivals in terms of flexibility. It cancelled yesterday’s and today’s flights from Gatwick to Antigua. They woukd normally continue to the islands of Tobago and St Kitts respectively.
The airline also flew a jet from Heathrow to Antigua to arrive ahead of the storm and airlift passengers. The plane took off nearly eight hours earlier than scheduled, touching down at around 2am at Gatwick.
BA is offering a “waiver” to anyone booked to fly to Antigua, St Kitts, Punta Cana, Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos, and Nassau before 10 September. “They can choose to travel to an alternative Caribbean destination or delay the flight to another date before 30 September,” says the airline.
The same offer applies for passengers booked to the four Florida airports BA serves. Flights to Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa will count between 8 and 11 September. The passangers can choose to fly earlier than originally booked (up to September 7) or from September 12 to 30.
Virgin Atlantic also adjusted its Antigua schedule, but has not made further public announcements.
Anyone booked to travel on a US carrier can take advantage of a wide range of travel waivers. Southwest Airlines, for example, is offering booked passengers to fly to airports in Florida, the Bahamas, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, and San Juan in Puerto Rico. This will last up to 11 September, and the passengers can rebook within the next two weeks.
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