Hurricane Irma lashed the Caribbean today, causing at least 10 deaths, while in the U.S., Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are facing states of emergency as residents brace for the monster storm.
The storm — called “extremely dangerous” by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) — currently has sustained winds of 180 mph and even higher gusts.
The storm’s impact on the Caribbean islands
On Wednesday afternoon, Irma was battering the Caribbean, destroying about 90 percent of the structures and vehicles on Barbuda, officials said.
In St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, at least eight people died and 21 were injured, according to the French Interior Minister.
At least one person died in Barbuda, where there is widespread damage, said Midcie Francis, a spokeswoman for Antigua & Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services.
Another person died in Anguilla, according to the Director of Disaster Management.
Aerial footage from Barbuda showed widespread devastation on the island.
Irma, which is approximately 450 miles wide, has had sustained winds of at least 180 mph for a longer period of time than any other Atlantic storm on record.
As of 2 a.m. ET on Thursday, Irma was about 140 miles north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico and moving west-northwest at about 16 mph. The hurricane is forecast to move north of U.S. territory this evening, unleashing strong winds and heavy rain.
The Puerto Rican Electrical Energy Authority said about 950,000 customers were without power as of 9 p.m. ET Wednesday.
The highest recorded wind gust in San Juan was 63 mph, but persistent heavy rain from Irma is expected to continue for hours and flash flood warnings have been issued across northeastern Puerto Rico, including San Juan. Flash flooding was occurring in Puerto Rico as of 8 p.m.
Turks and Caicos is the next major area of concern, with potentially catastrophic impacts Thursday evening.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for much of the central Bahamas, while a hurricane watch has been issued for much of the northwestern Bahamas.