By the Caribbean Journal staff
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands on Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane.
Irma thrashed Barbuda with 185-mph winds before making landfall in St Barth and St Martin this morning with massive winds and flooding.
While the eye of the storm passed directly over Barbuda, it seems that neighboring Antigua was spared the worst.
It was too early to tell the extent of damage in Barbuda.
The NOAA said the “extremely dangerous core” of Irma would move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands early Wednesday, before moving near or over portions of the northern Virgin Islands on Wednesday and passing near or just north of Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night.
While the NOAA said some fluctuations were likely over the next few days, Irma was forecast to remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center, with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 175 miles.
Hurricane Warnings remained in effect for islands including Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, St Martin and St Barth, along with the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.
The Dominican Republic also issued a hurricane warning for the area from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti.
Looking ahead, hurricane watches were in effect for Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St Nicholas, along with the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Southeastern Bahamas and Cuba from the Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo.
A tropical storm warning was also in effect for Dominica and parts of the Dominican Republic.
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
The threat of Irma has led to states of emergency across the Caribbean and frantic preparations and evacuations ahead of its impact.