Friday breaks record for hurricane activity - KMOV.com

Friday breaks record for hurricane activity

Posted: Updated:
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. (Jonathan Falwell via AP This Sept. 6, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. (Jonathan Falwell via AP
In this satellite image released by NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Hurricane Irma reaches Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project via AP) In this satellite image released by NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Hurricane Irma reaches Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project via AP)
AP Images AP Images
AP Images AP Images
AP Images AP Images

MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

Researchers calculated that Friday has had the most hurricane activity in the history of the Atlantic region.

Scientists use a measurement called Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) to give a good snapshot of hurricane activity because it combines storms' wind speeds and how long they spin at such speeds.

With Irma and Jose Category 4 storms and Katia knocking on the door Category 3, Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach calculated that the entire day — based on universal time — Friday had an ACE of 16. That beat out the region's record of 14.3 set on Sept. 11, 1961. Thursday now ranks third for ACE with 14.2 and Wednesday ranks fourth at 14.1.

"I can't keep up with all the records," says Klotzbach, who keeps numerous hurricane records.

___

5:15 p.m.

Hurricane Irma has caused extensive flooding and damaged many homes in the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas.

Minister of Instructure Gold Ray Ewing says damage on the most populated island of Providenciales will total at least half a billion dollars.

He says no one has yet been able to assess damage on Grand Turk and South Caicos islands.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ewing said that a community known as Blue Hill on the northwestern side of Providenciales is "gone" and that homes have been destroyed across the island.

The Disaster Management Agency says it has no reports yet of any deaths in the British territory.

Flooding is widespread and power is out throughout the island chain. There are many downed trees and utility poles, making some roads impassable.

The storm passed near uninhabited West Caicos on Friday afternoon as it headed toward Florida.

___

5:15 p.m.

Emergency officials in Georgia are ordering the state's coastal residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma. But where should they go?

The storm's unpredictable path beyond Florida is making that a tough question to answer. A westward shift in the storm forecast Friday put Irma's potential path in the same direction many coastal evacuees had been told to flee.

On Thursday, when the forecast showed Irma coming up the coastline, Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones had told people in Savannah to "just move west."

Jones was asked again Friday where residents should head after the National Hurricane Center moved its predicted storm track far inland into southern central Georgia.

Jones' reply: "Honestly, I can't tell you where safe is."

___

5 p.m.

The U.S. Navy says four ships are ready to assist with Hurricane Irma relief.

The U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command said in a statement Friday that Adm. Phil Davidson ordered the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the transport dock ship USS New York and the assault ship USS Iwo Jima to be in position to provide humanitarian relief if requested.

The statement says the destroyer USS Farragut is already "conducting local operations" and has been ordered to join the group.

The ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime security and logistical support.

Irma, which was churning along Cuba's northern coast Friday afternoon, is expected to hit Florida early Sunday morning.

___

5 p.m.

Miami Beach resident George Neary was on one of the last flights out of Miami International Airport before it closed in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

The American Airlines flight left for New York around noon Friday.

"Everyone cheered when we got the OK to take off," Neary said. "It was kind of emotional for a lot of us. We didn't know until it finally left if it was actually going to leave."

Neary says the checking-in and boarding processes were well organized Friday morning.

Neary was planning to attend a business convention in New York and had booked his flight long before a hurricane was forecast to hit Florida. Still, he considered staying.

"I thought about canceling my flight and staying, but I wouldn't be in my condo anyway," Neary said. "I might as well watch it from New York with my fingers crossed."

___

4:45 p.m.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in Virginia so officials can better prepare for Hurricane Irma and help other affected states.

The governor's office said in a statement that the order issued Friday allows the state to mobilize resources including the Virginia National Guard. It also allows people and equipment to be staged to assist in storm response and recovery efforts.

The statement says that while the track of Hurricane Irma is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia will see "significant" impacts. It says the whole state should prepare for possible flooding, high winds and storm surge.

The governor is also urging coastal residents to know what hurricane evacuation zone they live in under the state's new plan unveiled earlier this year. A tool to look up that information is available online.

___

4:45 p.m.

Dozens of people swarmed like ants Friday filling up white bags with free sand from a huge pile dumped at the Flagler County Airport in Palm Coast, Florida, as they prepared for Hurricane Irma.

Sheriff's deputies watched as four minimum-security county prisoners helped carry bags to residents' cars and trucks.

Daniel Nobles needed the assistance, wincing visibly as he scoped sand into a bag.

"It's a struggle. I have a torn muscle that goes all the way from my chest down to my ribs, and just bending over doing this is a lot of stress," said Nobles, 27. "But I have to protect my property."

Palm Coast is located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Jacksonville.

___

4:30 p.m.

The operator of two nuclear power plants in Florida says the plants will be shut down well before Hurricane Irma makes landfall.

Florida Power and Light President Eric Silagy said Friday that the company will shut the Turkey Point and St. Lucie plants down 24 hours before the onset of hurricane-level winds. Turkey Point is located south of Miami in Homestead. St. Lucie is on the state's east coast.

Silagy says the two plants are among the strongest structures in the world and are encased in a 6-foot-thick (1.8 meters) cement structure reinforced by steel. The plants also have multiple safety systems and are elevated about 20 feet (6.1 meters) above sea level to protect against flooding and extreme storm surges.

Turkey Point took a direct hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Silagy said officials "will not take any chances, and those plants will be secure."

___

4:20 p.m.

The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.

The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados.

The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas.

Irma weakened from a Category 5 to a still-fearsome Category 4 on Friday morning with winds of 155 mph (250 kph) as it churns along Cuba's northern coast.

___

4:15 p.m.

Uncertainty over the path of Hurricane Irma has prompted Georgia's governor to expand a pre-emptive emergency declaration to cover more than half of the state.

By Friday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal had declared a state of emergency for 94 of Georgia's 159 counties. The National Weather Service predicts Irma's center will cross the state line Monday as the storm churns northward from Florida. But it could arrive anywhere from the coast near Savannah to inland communities near the Georgia-Alabama line.

Evacuations have been ordered only for six counties directly on the Georgia coast, affecting nearly 540,000 people.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration Friday authorizing federal disaster aid for 30 southeast Georgia counties bracing for possible destruction from Irma.

___

4:05 p.m.

The Palm Beach Post newspaper is evacuating its building in Palm Beach County, Florida, due to Hurricane Irma.

Publisher Timothy Burke informed the staff in a memo on Thursday night. In the memo, Burke acknowledged that some employees had arranged to have their families stay at the building while they worked.

In a Friday email, Burke said the decision was made to allow employees to evacuate to "safer locations." He says the Post building may not be able to withstand a storm above a Category 2 hurricane. Burke says the organization had been helping staff and their families find accommodations.

In his memo, Burke told the staff the media organization would return to its building "as soon as possible."

___

3:55 p.m.

The Homeland Security Department is temporarily waiving federal restrictions on foreign ships' transportation of cargo in order to help distribute fuel to states and territories affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

In a statement Friday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said, "This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure." The seven-day waiver specifically affects shipments of refined products, such as gasoline, in hurricane-affected areas.

The Jones Act prohibits such shipments between U.S. points aboard foreign vessels. The last such waiver was in December 2012, for petroleum products delivered after Hurricane Sandy.

___

3:45 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is warning that residents in South Florida only have hours left to evacuate.

Scott on Friday told residents from seven counties that they should leave by midnight or should not get on the road.

"If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk," Scott said.

Hurricane Irma is expected to rip into the state over the weekend. The looming threat of the dangerous storm has triggered a massive evacuation. Those trying to flee have encountered traffic jams and there have been fuel shortages, especially in south Florida.

Scott has urged Floridians for days to heed evacuation orders, but he has also told residents they don't need to leave the region, but instead to seek out nearby shelters.

3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is "prepared at the highest level" to deal with Hurricane Irma.

Trump spoke briefly to reporters Friday before boarding Marine One to travel to Camp David for the weekend. He told reporters, "Hopefully everything will go well."

After struggling to hear the shouted questions from reporters, he says that while the storm is "a really bad one," the U.S. is prepared for the dangerous major hurricane heading toward Florida.

Trump received a briefing on Irma earlier in the day. He is spending the weekend at the government-owned mountain retreat in Maryland where he'll monitor the storm and hold a Cabinet meeting on Saturday.

___

3:25 p.m.

Florida's major theme parks are planning to close as Hurricane Irma approaches the state.

Officials at Walt Disney World in Orlando announced Friday afternoon that its parks will close on Saturday and remain closed through Monday.

Universal Orlando announced on its website that it will close at 7 p.m. Saturday and will remain closed through Monday. Officials said they anticipate reopening on Tuesday.

SeaWorld in Orlando and Busch Gardens, which is in Tampa, also announced plans to shut down at 5 p.m. Saturday and remain closed through Monday.

Last October, the theme parks also closed down for Hurricane Matthew, which skirted Florida's southeast coast.

___

3:10 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is urging residents along the state's Gulf Coast to get out of evacuation zones as Hurricane Irma's path has moved slightly west.

During a news conference on Friday afternoon in Lee County in southwest Florida, Scott warned of storm surge which could be between 6 and 12 feet.

"You are not going to survive this if it happens," Scott told residents. "Now is the time to evacuate."

Scott says the state hasn't closed southbound lanes on interstates because of the need to continue getting supplies into South Florida. But he says they've opened the shoulder of Interstate 75's northbound lanes from Wildwood in central Florida to the Georgia line, north of Lake City.

___

3 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to decide whether to order residents to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

McMaster said he is awaiting the next update from the National Hurricane Center. He has scheduled another news conference at 6 p.m. Friday.

Federal forecasters have shifted the center of Irma well west of South Carolina. But western parts of the state are still in Monday's forecast cone as Irma diminishes from a hurricane to a tropical depression.

McMaster says if he orders people to leave their homes, the evacuation would take effect at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The governor also rescinded parts of an order signed Thursday requiring health care facilities in all coastal counties to move patients inland and not take new, non-emergency patients. The order still applied to three counties.

___

2:30 p.m.

A top homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump is urging those in the path of Hurricane Irma to stay vigilant and listen to the directions of their local and state officials.

Tom Bossert says at the White House that people in Florida and elsewhere should not be focused on the specific track of the storm, but should make preparations now to take care of themselves and their families.

As Florida deals with gasoline shortages, Bossert says responders are bringing in as much fuel as possible.

Bossert says the Trump administration is thankful that Congress passed the $15.3 billion disaster aid package. He says Trump may sign the bill on Friday.

___

2:30 p.m.

A top U.S. homeland security adviser says President Donald Trump's administration wants some hurricane-ravaged areas to rebuild with potential flooding in mind.

Thomas Bossert told reporters Friday that officials are reconsidering Trump's executive order last month that rolled back President Obama's directive for flood plain buildings to adhere to tighter standards. Bossert said that people "need to build back smarter and stronger against flood plain concerns when we use federal dollars." He added that the administration will decide new standards over the next month or so.

Trump's order last month revoked Obama's directive requiring that such projects built with federal aid take rising sea levels into account. Trump suggested the predicted risks from sea level rise driven by climate change are overblown.

___

2:30 p.m.

Authorities in Florida say a man trying to install hurricane shutters in preparation for Hurricane Irma fell from a ladder and died.

Davie Police Sgt. Mark Leone said in an email that a 57-year-old man had been hired to install hurricane shutters Thursday morning. He fell about 15 feet (5 meters) from a ladder and hit his head on a pool deck.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man's name wasn't immediately released.

___

2:30 p.m.

A 16-year-old junior professional surfer in Barbados died this week while surfing large swells generated by Hurricane Irma.

Zander Venezia was surfing on the island's east coast when he drowned Tuesday as the hurricane churned several hundred miles away.

Family friend and surfing instructor Alan Burke said Venezia hit his head and lost consciousness. He said it was a freak accident that occurred under blue skies and ideal surfing conditions.

Burke said Venezia told a friend in his last words that he was surfing the best waves of his life.

Venezia had represented Barbados on its national surfing team as a junior pro.

___

2:30 p.m.

Laura Strickling and her husband, Taylor, moved to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands three years ago from Washington, D.C., so he could take a job first as a law clerk and then with a law firm.

They rented an apartment at the top floor of a house with a stunning view of the turquoise water of Megan's Bay, which is surrounded by low hills covered in deep green trees. The couple is used to living in tough circumstances: Taylor Strickling worked in Afghanistan for three years, helping to set up a law school, and Laura, an opera singer, visited him there often. They've also lived in Morocco.

But she says nothing prepared them for the stress of spending the night, huddled with their 1-year-old daughter and another couple and their 1-year-old son, inside the basement apartment of the house while Hurricane Irma raged outside for 12 hours. Strickling says she has sat through a Taliban gunfight "and this was scarier."

When they emerged, they found that their apartment on the top floor was unscathed. All around them, though, was destruction, roofs torn from houses, the lush vegetation gone, and power lines strewn about, including across their driveway.

Strickling says she and her husband have no plans to leave St. Thomas, although she admits she is worried about the impending approach of Hurricane Jose.

"It's not good."

___

2 p.m.

Stevet Jeremiah lost her 2-year-old son, her house and all her belongings when Hurricane Irma slammed into the tiny island of Barbuda.

Now she is leaving the island for good.

Jeremiah said her mother and other son had been sent to Antigua and she and her husband were going to follow.

She said she has "nothing, not even an ID to say my name."

When it was still a Category 5 storm, the hurricane ripped the roof off her house and filled it with water. Jeremiah says there was "so much water beating past us, we had to crawl to get to safety." Her son was swept away in floodwaters.

In Antigua, she planned to look for her surviving son and her mother, and start making arrangements for the 2-year-old's funeral.

She said she has experienced hurricanes before, but "never anything like this in my life ... and I don't ever, ever, ever want to see something like this again."

Irma practically decimated houses and other infrastructure on Barbuda, and damaged telecommunications equipment, roads and public utilities. The government has since declared the island a disaster zone and declared a state of emergency.

Officials in Antigua launched a national campaign to open their homes to hurricane victims from Barbuda.

___

1:40 p.m.

Pope Francis is expressing solidarity with earthquake victims in Mexico as well as those in the path of Hurricane Irma.

Francis spoke after a mass in Villavicencio, Colombia, where he said he's praying those who had lost loved ones or their homes in the disasters.

The pope's visit to Colombia was intended to be a celebration of the country's steps toward peace. But the rising death toll from Irma and the magnitude 8.1 earthquake Thursday night in southern Mexico have somewhat dampened the spirited mood surrounding Francis' visit.

Speaking to the disaster victims, the pope said: "I have you in my heart and am praying for you."

Powered by Frankly