Irma, the new great hurricane heading towards the Caribbean

hurricane seen from space

Just when everyone still has this the consequences that Hurricane Harvey has left as it passed through Texas, a new hurricane, baptized with the name of Irma, she's heading to the Caribbean. With the possibility of also reaching the United States, it belongs to the well-known hurricanes called the «Cape Verde hurricane».

These types of hurricanes are so named because they form in the eastern end of the Atlantic, near the islands of Cape Verde. Moving across the Atlantic, the Cape Verde cyclones they tend to stand out for being some of the largest and most intense hurricanes. Examples of this can be found in Hurricane Hugo, which reached category 5, which impacted Puerto Rico, Saint Croix and South Carolina, leaving great damage in 1989. Another example we have in Hurricane Ivan in 2004 of category 5, with a "Unprecedented" intensity at low latitudes with maximum winds of 275km / h.

Irma is a potentially destructive hurricane

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma right now

Irma was named a tropical storm this Wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon, it was already a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 185km / h. This explosive strengthening is known as "rapid escalation.", as defined by the National Hurricane Center. This name is conferred when there is an increase in wind speed of at least 56km / h in less than 24 hours.

In Harvey's case, we could see this same phenomenon. It had a rapid escalation before reaching land, which elevated it to Category 4 when it moved near Corpus Christi. However, although it could be anticipated that it could intensify, few would have said that it would reach such a great intensity before, when it was anticipated that it could reach category 1, at most 2. Sometimes, last minute factors cause big changes , both in hurricanes and other meteorological phenomena.

For Irma, current and official forecasts from the National Hurricane Center indicate that will keep getting stronger as you move west for the next five days. It is very possible that by this Tuesday, it will already be a category 4 hurricane. This category, on the Saffir-Simpson scale, comprises wind speeds of between 210 and 249km / h, with a central pressure of between 920 and 944 millibars. Potential damages are widespread in protective structures, roof collapse in small buildings, and flooding in interior terrain, such as the Harvey.

Hurricane Irma forecast

Irma's forecast for the following Thursday day 7

Puerto Rico prepares

Although it is not possible to know exactly if Hurricane Irma will reach Puerto Rico, the island municipality of Culebra is already preparing, assuming that it will happen. Mayor Williams Iván Solís stated, «We cannot trust each other. We urge people to prepare. Let's not wait until the last moment ». Likewise, the mayor indicates that if the hurricane finally affects Puerto Rico, the areas where there are wooden and zinc residences, as well as mobile homes, will be evicted.

Taking into account the forecasts of the National Hurricane Center, Irma could pass through the north of Puerto Rico between Wednesday and Thursday of the following week as a "major hurricane." With winds greater than 178km / h that would already be category 3. "So that a disaster does not happen, we are going to prepare as we prepare every year", Solís sentenced.


Who names the hurricanes?

Each year a list is prepared with the names that the hurricanes that occur throughout the season will receive. These lists that are repeated every 6 years, include a name for each letter of the alphabet (not counting the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z) and alternate masculine and feminine names. In this year for example, the hurricane season began with Arlene, in April, starting the name with A. Harvey, which was H, the next letter would be I, hence Irma is next.

When a hurricane is especially destructive in a country, its name is withdrawn and replaced on the list. Nor can your name be used for the next 10 years to avoid confusion. In this way, by naming a hurricane by name, it can quickly be easily located in time. This system was created in 1953 by the National Hurricane Center, in United States.

We will report any eventuality in Irma's evolution.

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