Hurricane Irma has made her threat of her visit to the Windward and Leeward Islands more prominent with increased wind speed and estimated projection.

Irma, at press time a Category 2 hurricane, is projected to increase her speed and become a Category 4 by Monday. On Aug. 31, the Observer contactedBrian Dyerdirector at Nevis Disaster Management Department, who said Irma is a threat to the Caribbean Islands, but it is too early to tell if the storm will have a direct impact with the islands.

“We can say the hurricane is in favorable climate,” he said. “On Monday, the storm is projected to be about 600 miles east of the Windward Islands and we are monitoring it very closely.”

On Thursday, Irma had maximum sustained winds near 100 mph (155 km/h) with high gusts. Irma is forecast to become a major hurricane by tonight and is expected to be an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles (30 km) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km).

The last hurricane that hit the federation was Category 1 Hurricane Omar in 2008. Omar impact caused the closure of the Four Seasons for two years. In 1998, Category 3 Hurricane Georges – one of the biggest storms of the last decade – directly hit Antigua and St. Kitts and Nevis, and its wide windfield affected many other islands. After weakening to a Category 2 hurricane over the Caribbean, its upper-level shear decreased, and Georges strengthened again before making landfall near Fajardo, Puerto Rico, as a 115-mph (185 km/h) hurricane. Georges’ damage in Puerto Rico alone cost an estimated US$2 billion.

Dyer notes that people should begin their hurricane preparation now. Items best needed during a hurricane include the following:

  • battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • a first-aid kit (bandages, aspirin, disinfectant swabs)
  • prescription medications (at least a two-week supply) in original bottles plus copies of the prescriptions
  • eyeglasses/contacts (with a copy of the prescription) and supplies, which include distilled water
  • foods that do not require refrigeration or cooking
  • coolers for food storage
  • items for infants and elderly household members
  • medical equipment and devices, such as dentures, crutches, prostheses, etc
  • a change of clothes for each household member
  • a sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
  • checkbook, cash in large and small bills and credit cards
  • cell phone charger and car charger
  • charge your laptop computer batteries
  • digital camera, camera with film or disposable camera for before/after pictures of property
  • books, games, toys for children
  • disposable plates and utensils
  • manual can opener
  • scissors
  • toilet paper
  • insect repellent, sunscreen
  • air mattress and air pump