This article is about the Atlantic hurricane of 2017. For other storms of the same name, see .
Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful and catastrophic , the observed in the Atlantic in terms of maximum sustained winds since , and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region. Irma was the first to strike the on record, followed by two weeks later, and is the second-costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria. The ninth , fourth , second , and first of the , Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern and the . It was also the most intense hurricane to strike the since in , the first major hurricane to make landfall in since Wilma in the same year, and the first Category 4 hurricane to strike the state since in .
Irma developed from a near on August 30. Favorable conditions allowed Irma to into a on the by late on August 31. However, the storm's intensity fluctuated between Categories 2 and 3 for the next several days, due to a series of . On September 4, Irma resumed intensifying, becoming a Category 5 hurricane by early on the next day, and acquiring . On September 6, Irma peaked with 180 mph (285 km/h) winds and a minimum of 914 hPa (27.0 inHg), making it the second most intense tropical cyclone worldwide in 2017, behind only , and the strongest worldwide in 2017, in terms of wind speed. Another eyewall replacement cycle caused Irma to weaken back to a Category 4 hurricane, but the storm re-attained Category 5 status before making landfall in . Although land interaction weakened Irma to a Category 2 storm, the system re-intensified to Category 4 status as it crossed the warm waters of the , before making landfall on with winds at 130 mph, (215 km/h) on September 10. Irma weakened to Category 3 status, prior to another landfall in Florida on later that day. The system degraded into a remnant low over and ultimately dissipated on September 13 over .
The storm caused catastrophic damage in , , , , and the as a Category 5 hurricane. The hurricane caused at least 134 deaths: one in ; one in ; three in ; four in the ; 10 in ; 11 in the ; one in ; three in ; four on the Dutch side of ; 92 in the , and four in the . Hurricane Irma was the top term in the US and globally in 2017.
Main article:Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm, according to the
The (NHC) began monitoring a over western Africa on August 26. The tropical wave moved off the coast of the continent late on August 27. Throughout the next two days, showers and thunderstorms associated with the wave became better organized and gradually coalesced into a , as the system passed just south of and then through the on August 29, with the NHC stating that any significant organization of the disturbance would result in the classification of a tropical depression. Further organization over the next 24 hours or so led to classification of the disturbance as Tropical Storm Irma, at 06:00 UTC on August 30, based on data and . With warm and low wind shear, strengthening was anticipated, with the only hindrance being slightly cooler waters and drier air.Sea surface temperatures in Hurricane Irma's path.
The nascent storm began developing upper-level poleward , as an became established over the system, with becoming increasingly evident in satellite images. Early on August 31, shortly after the development of a (CDO) and an , Irma underwent , becoming a Category 2 hurricane at 18:00 UTC and then a Category 3 hurricane, becoming a major hurricane – around 00:00 UTC on September 1. In a 48-hour period, the hurricane's intensity had increased by 65 mph (105 km/h). On September 2, a ship passed 60 mi (97 km) to the west of the center of Irma, recording maximum winds of 45 mph (72 km/h), which indicated that the eye of Irma remained compact. A strong system to the north of Irma caused the storm to move west-southwestward between September 2 and September 4. The first departed from on the afternoon of September 3, discovering an eye 29 mi (47 km) in diameter and surface winds of 115 mph (185 km/h).
On September 4, after moving into more favorable conditions, Irma strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane. As it continued approaching the Leeward Islands, Irma underwent a second and more robust period of rapid intensification, becoming a Category 5 hurricane by 12:00 UTC on the following day, with winds of 175 mph (280 km/h). As it began to take on , the extremely powerful hurricane continued to intensify, with maximum sustained winds peaking at 180 mph (285 km/h) near 18:00 UTC on September 5 – although it was operationally assessed at 185 mph (295 km/h). Eight hours later, Irma made landfall along the northern coast of near peak strength. Later that day, around 18:00 UTC, the storm's pressure bottomed out at 914 mbar (27.0 inHg) – this was the lowest in the Atlantic since in 2007. While maintaining its intensity, Irma made successive landfalls on September 6, at 11:15 UTC on , and at 16:30 UTC on , in the , all while it was at peak intensity.Three simultaneously active hurricanes on September 7. From left to right: , Irma, and , the first occurrence since .
As the hurricane moved away from the late on September 6, observations from reconnaissance flights as well as Doppler radar in , indicated an elliptical eye and double eyewalls. Late on September 6, the cyclone passed about 60 mi (97 km) north of . Moving west-northwestward, Irma closely paralleled the north coast of throughout the day on September 7. After beginning an eyewall replacement cycle, Irma weakened to a Category 4 hurricane as it passed south of the early on September 8. This subsequently ended the 60-hour contiguous period of Irma maintaining Category 5 intensity, the second longest any Atlantic storm had maintained winds above 156 mph (251 km/h) – behind only the . At 05:00 UTC on September 8, Irma made landfall on the island of in the Bahamas with sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). The hurricane then began tracking more to the west due to the intensification of a to its north. Once the eyewall replacement cycle was complete, Irma began to re-intensify, and it re-attained Category 5 intensity at 18:00 UTC that day east of as deep convection became more pronounced and organized. The hurricane then made landfall in , at 03:00 UTC on September 9, with winds of 165 mph (270 km/h). This made Irma only the second Category 5 hurricane to strike Cuba in recorded history, after the . As the eye of Irma moved along the northern coast of Cuba, gradual weakening ensued due to land interaction, with the eye becoming cloud-filled and the intensity falling to a high-end Category 2 storm later on September 9.Combined satellite image of Hurricanes and Irma, showing the size comparison of the storms
After slowing down late on September 9, the hurricane turned northwestward towards around the southwestern edge of the subtropical high to its northeast and a low-pressure system that was located over the continental . Moving over the warm waters of the Straits of Florida, Irma quickly restrengthened to a Category 4 hurricane at 06:00 UTC on September 10, as deep convection improved and the eye becoming better defined. In addition, Irma's wind field continued to increase in size, with hurricane-force winds spanning out a region of 80 mi (130 km) and gale-force winds spanning 220 mi (350 km) in diameter. The cyclone made landfall in , at 13:00 UTC on September 10, at Category 4 intensity, with winds of 130 mph (215 km/h). Increasing wind shear and land interaction caused the satellite appearance of the storm to become ragged later that day, and Irma weakened to Category 3 intensity before making its seventh and final landfall at 19:30 UTC, in , with sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). Once Irma had moved inland, it began to accelerate to the north-northwest, while rapid weakening began to occur due to the increasing wind shear, land interaction, and dry air, with the storm falling below Category 3 intensity hours after landfall. Passing east of as a weakening Category 1 hurricane around 06:00 UTC on September 11, Irma continued to weaken as most of the deep convection became more spread out towards the northern semi-circle of the circulation – though it retained a large wind field, with most of Florida experiencing gale-force winds. The system finally weakened to a tropical storm around 12:00 UTC that day as it entered southern , while acquiring some extratropical characteristics. At 06:00 UTC on September 12, Irma degenerated to a just as it entered , as most of the deep convection had diminished. The remnants persisted for another day or so before dissipating over on September 13.
Given that Irma's forecast track was along much of the Caribbean island chain, hurricane warnings were issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and parts of Hispaniola on September 5.
On September 4, declared a state of emergency. By September 6, the U.S. had deployed response teams in Puerto Rico and the . Supplies, including food rations, medical supplies, and blankets, were pre-staged in strategic locations on the islands for distribution.
In , residents safeguarded their homes and cleaned up their properties in anticipation of strong winds. Emergency crews were put on standby at public shelters and hospitals by September 5 to assist with any evacuations. Expecting a direct hit, more than half of the residents on Barbuda took shelter, and relief supplies were preemptively mobilized.
In Guadeloupe, low-lying and cliff-edge homes were evacuated at the threat of flooding and erosion. Schools and public businesses closed on September 5 and 6. Hospitals stocked up on three days' worth of supplies and checked the functionality of their generators. Of the island's 32 municipalities, 22 activated their emergency plans; 1,500 people were urged to take shelter. The island sustained relatively minor damage and became the base for relief efforts on St. Martin () and St. Barts ().
Though the core of the hurricane was expected to remain north of the island, a yellow alert was issued for due to the likelihood of rough seas. The island dispatched relief supplies and military reinforcements to its neighboring islands of , and , which faced a greater risk of a direct impact. The National Emergency Management Organization on urged small craft operators and swimmers to be mindful of forecasts for high surf. Small Craft Warnings and High Surf Advisories were hoisted for , where residents were urged to remain vigilant of the potential for high waves, landslides, and flooding.
In the , evacuation orders were issued for low-lying areas starting September 5. Schools were closed, government buildings were boarded up, and shelters were opened. Officials spread warnings to residents in English, Creole, and Spanish via social media, radio, SMS text, and .
On September 5, the activated the , thus providing for humanitarian satellite coverage; the United States and Haiti followed suit two days later. According to officials, 11,200 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas prior to the storm's arrival. 7,400 tourists were moved to , away from beach resorts.
In , government officials and aid organizations struggled with early preparation and evacuation efforts. While some officials blamed reluctance and indifference on the part of the population, others "admitted they were not prepared for the onslaught and no mandatory evacuation orders were in place ahead of Irma's approach," per The Guardian. Local officials contended that they had not received promised funds, supplies, or equipment from the national government. The prepared its 1,000 and engineers to assist.
In , the government began preparations the week prior to the hurricane's arrival, including securing national sports facilities to use as shelters. By September 7, the government had evacuated 1,609 people by air from the southern islands, including 365 from . Controlled cutting of the power supply to southern and central Bahamian islands was conducted in advance of the storm. Shelters were made available, though usage was low due to most evacuees staying with family on other islands. Of the 2,679 foreign tourists still in The Bahamas on September 7, about 1,200 were being housed at , one of the most hurricane-ready structures in the country.
In , meteorologists did not initially predict a direct hit. Fuel conservation was enacted in to ensure that enough would be available during post-storm power outages. The Civil Defense evacuated nearly one million people from low-lying areas, including thousands of Canadian and European tourists in the . Dolphins at a resort were evacuated by helicopter.
The NHC issued several for the . The first watches and warnings were issued at 15:00 UTC on September 7, which was a hurricane watch from the to , including the and . The watches and warnings were extended into and on September 9. At 21:00 UTC on that day, the advisories reached their maximum extent, with a hurricane warning covering the entire east coast of the state, the west coast from southward, and the Florida Keys; a hurricane watch was in place from the Florida–Georgia state line to ; and there were two tropical storm warnings, one in Florida from Indian Pass to the – county line and the other from the Florida–Georgia state line to the in South Carolina. Watches and warnings were gradually discontinued as Irma moved inland and weakened, with all of them canceled by early on September 12.
On September 4, Florida Governor declared a state of emergency. Governor Scott placed 100 members of the on duty to assist in preparations. All 7,000 troops were ordered to be on duty by September 8. Officials advised residents to stock their hurricane kits. The state coordinated with electrical companies in order for power outages to be restored as quickly as possible, extending resources such as equipment, fuel, and lodging for the approximately 24,000 restoration personnel who had been activated. Governor Scott suspended tolls on all toll roads in Florida, including . All state offices in Florida were closed from September 8 to September 11, while public schools, state colleges, and state universities in all 67 were closed during the same period. The coordinated with school districts as the need for transportation by school buses and opening shelters arose. By September 9, more than 150 state parks were closed.
Throughout the state, almost 700 emergency shelters were opened. The shelters collectively housed about 191,764 people, with more than 40% of them staying in a shelter in South Florida, including 31,092 in Miami-Dade County, 17,263 in Palm Beach County, 17,040 in Collier County, and 17,000 in Broward County. Additionally, more than 60 special needs shelters were opened, which housed more than 5,000 people by September 9.
Many airports across the state, particularly in and , were closed. Nearly 9,000 flights intending to arrive in or depart from Florida were canceled. Along Florida's coasts, the seaports of , , , , , and , and were closed, while the ports at , , , and were opened, but with restricted access. For the fifth time in its 45-year history, the was completely closed due to the storm. Its theme parks, water parks, and were all closed by 9:00 p.m. on September 9 and remained closed until September 12. Other -area theme parks, including and , were also closed. The was closed from September 8 to September 15.
An estimated 6.5 million Floridians were ordered to evacuate, mostly those living on barrier islands or in coastal areas; in mobile or sub-standard homes; and in low-lying or flood prone areas. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for portions of , , , , , , Flagler, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and Volusia counties. All of , where the are located, was placed under a mandatory evacuation. Residents in communities near the southern half of Lake Okeechobee were also ordered to leave. Additionally, voluntary evacuation notices were issued for all or parts of , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , and counties.
A record 6.5 million Floridians evacuated, making it the largest evacuation in the state's history. Evacuees caused significant traffic congestion on northbound , , and Florida's Turnpike, exacerbated by the fact that the entire Florida peninsula was within the cone of uncertainty in the NHC's forecast path in the days before the storm, so evacuees from both coasts headed north, as evacuees would not be safer by fleeing to the opposite coast. Fuel was in short supply throughout peninsular Florida during the week before Irma's arrival, especially along evacuation routes, leading to hours-long lines at fuel stations and even escorts of fuel trucks by the . Use of the left as a lane for moving traffic was allowed on northbound Interstate 75 from to the Georgia state line beginning September 8 and on eastbound from Tampa to near for a few hours on September 9. It was the first time that the shoulder-use plan, which was introduced at the start of the 2017 hurricane season, was implemented by the state for hurricane evacuations. The shoulder-use plan was implemented in place of labor- and resource-intensive , in which both sides of an interstate highway are used for one direction of traffic.
Officials from the , which had been criticized for its response to , took special measures to inspect and secure hazardous materials, especially at sites.
declared a state of emergency initially for all six coastal counties on September 6; however, the state of emergency was expanded to cover 30 counties in southeast and east central Georgia, and Governor Deal ordered mandatory evacuations for all areas east of on September 7. for took effect on September 9 at 8:00 a.m. from to . On September 8, Governor Deal further expanded the state of emergency to cover 94 counties south of the , with mandatory evacuations expanded to include the entirety of as well as low-lying areas west of I-95. In total, 540,000 people on the Georgia coast were ordered to leave. On September 10, the state of emergency for Georgia was extended to cover the entire state, while was placed under its first-ever tropical storm warning.
All were open for free to evacuees, as was the 800-acre camping area at . Reversible on through south were open 24 hours northbound with no tolls.
declared a state of emergency on September 6, with following suit the same day. declared a state of emergency on September 8 in order to protect Virginia residents and to mobilize resources in support of neighboring states.
Officials in stated that there would not be much time for preparations if Irma failed to make the projected northward turn, but that South Texas or Florida would not be a good evacuation destination. near , opened their campgrounds to evacuees free of charge.
On September 10, 2017 Tennessee Governor issued an executive order allowing medical professionals in other states to practice in Tennessee to aid Hurricane Irma evacuees. This order also allowed pharmacies to give out 14-day supplies of medicine, and gave women and children from outside the state the ability to participate in the Tennessee Department of Health programs.
In professional sports, the – game scheduled for September 10 at in Miami was postponed to November 19 due to the storm's threat. The Dolphins left early for their road game against the . Although their schedule was not effected by Irma, the remained in until September 12, two days after their game against the . The and had their September 11–13 series moved from in St. Petersburg to , in .'s , , and called off their championship finals and as a result, named their division series winners league co-champions. The versus match on September 10 was cancelled so the players and staff could prepare for the storm with their families. The of the rescheduled their September 9 match to September 7. of did not have any scheduled home games in September, but was unable to return to training facilities in Orlando due to Hurricane Irma.
In , the - game set to take place at 20:00 EDT on September 9 was moved to September 30, replacing UCF's game against and Memphis game against . UCF also cancelled their game against originally scheduled for September 16, as hosted the National Guard. The - football game was also cancelled. The – game scheduled for September 9 at in Arkansas was canceled due to travel concerns for the University of Miami. The - match in Gainesville, originally scheduled for September 9 was cancelled. The contest against the was canceled on September 8. The Seminoles' game with the Hurricanes in Tallahassee, originally scheduled for the following Saturday, September 16, was postponed three weeks later to October 7. The game against the was moved up a day and relocated to in . The game against the on September 9 was also moved to Legion Field for that day.
As of September 5, (FEMA) funding was running dangerously low, due to its response to in Texas the previous week, prompting the to request an immediate billion in additional funding as Irma approached Florida. Given the rate that current funds are being consumed and the catastrophic damage, the almost doubled the requested amount to .3 billion, with the understanding that this would only be about 10% of what will be required for responding to Harvey.
Hurricane Irma's path was such that its impact was both far-reaching and devastating, with landfalls in , , , , and the United States, all at major hurricane intensity. Furthermore, the size of the storm system meant that destruction was prevalent even in territories well removed from landfall occurrences.
The eyewall of the hurricane moved over near its record peak intensity early on September 6; a weather station observed a wind gust of 160 mph (257 km/h). Although reports of structural damage such as blown off roofs surfaced shortly after, the exact state of the island remained unclear for hours after Irma's passage, as downed phone lines ceased all communication with nearby islands. Later that afternoon, Prime Minister surveyed the territory by helicopter, revealing an effectively uninhabitable island. Irma damaged or destroyed 95% of the structures on Barbuda, including its hospital, schools, and both of its hotels; it completely flattened some residential blocks while submerging others. The destruction rendered the island's sole airport and much of its infrastructure inoperative—including water and telecommunication services—which further hampered relief efforts. Property damage on Barbuda ranged from 0 million to 0 million. A total of three storm-related deaths have been reported on the island.
In addition to the catastrophic impact on Barbuda's human residents, concern turned to the storm's effects on the island's wildlife. The island's only bird, the , numbered less than 2,000 individuals prior to the hurricane. It is unknown if the warbler survived the hurricane or its aftermath. Barbuda's , home to the largest colony of in the Caribbean, with an estimated 2,500 nesting pairs, was also inundated by the storm surge.
Remaining just outside of Irma's strongest windfield, sustained less severe damage, in the form of leveled roofs and fences, downed power poles and lines, and uprooted trees. Some street flooding also took place in low-lying areas. Three people were treated for minor storm-related injuries. from the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM), a Germany-based agency, estimate that economic losses for Antigua and Barbuda will exceed 0 million.
On the morning of September 6, Irma's center crossed the island of while the storm was at peak intensity, sweeping away entire structures, submerging roads and cars, and triggering an island-wide blackout. Irma's extreme winds ripped trees out of the ground and sent vehicles and debris from damaged structures scattered across the territory. On the French side of , entire marinas around were left in ruins, littered with the stranded remnants of boats that had smashed into each other. A hotel caught on fire, but dangerous conditions and impassable roads prevented firefighters from putting out the blaze. Another hotel lost nearly all of its ground floor. Media images depicted devastated room interiors with furniture hurled around after the winds had shattered their windows. Irma killed four people on the French side of the island and injured 50 others, one of whom was in critical condition. As many as 95% of the buildings there were damaged to some degree; 60% of those were totally uninhabitable. Estimates from CEDIM indicate a minimum of 0 million worth of economic losses. Total loses exceeded €3.5 billion (.07 billion USD).
A similar situation unfolded in , Saint Martin's Dutch half, as intense winds ripped through buildings and lifted vehicles aloft "as if they were matches". The hurricane wreaked havoc on , with "huge chunks of the building [strewn] across the runway and a jet bridge snapped in half." It demolished or severely damaged about 70% of Sint Maarten's houses, forcing thousands of residents into public shelters. There were 4 deaths and 23 injuries, 11 of which were serious, in the Dutch territory. Irma is considered the worst natural disaster to hit Sint Maarten; the extent of its damage far exceeded that of any previous hurricane. Prime Minister William Marlin estimates that at least €1 billion (.2 billion) will be necessary to restore the destruction, while disaster analysts from CEDIM predict losses will exceed .5 billion.
Irma left widespread destruction and disastrous flooding along its path over the French island of , southeast of Saint Martin. Describing the extent of the destruction, one local compared it to "a bomb that burned all vegetation," while another said that it were as if the hurricane had effectively "erased the island from the map". Violent seas swept away entire coastal establishments, with one hotel being stripped of all but its foundation. Streets in the capital of were turned into rushing rivers, which carried away vehicles and pieces of furniture. The island's fire station was inundated with up to 6.4 ft (2.0 m) of flood waters. With scores of homes and much of the infrastructure destroyed, the majority of the island's population was left stranded and without water, electricity or phone service. The associated economic losses could exceed 0 million according to CEDIM's analysts.
Preliminary assessments from the French government indicate that Hurricane Irma caused a combined €1.2 billion (.44 billion) in insured losses across the French territories of Saint-Martin and Saint Barts. This total covered private property such as homes, vehicles and businesses (including lost revenue); the extent of the damage to infrastructural and public facilities remains undetermined. Nonetheless, this made Irma one of the costliest natural disasters to hit the French Republic in 50 years.
On January 30, 2018, roughly five months after Irma, an analysis was published indicating that an anemometer on the island recorded an unofficial gust to 199 mph (320 km/h) before failing.NOAA aircraft flying through the eye of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017
The British Overseas Territory of saw the eyewall of the storm pass over it on September 6. Many homes and schools were destroyed, and the island's only hospital was badly damaged. The devastation was particularly severe in , where the winds uprooted scores of trees and power poles and demolished a number of houses. In , the island's capital, the hurricane blew out the windows of government buildings. Rough seas inflicted heavy damage upon several bays and harbors, and a seaside restaurant was completely eradicated. About 90% of roads were left impassable. The island's air traffic control tower was damaged, exacerbating the already poor communication with the island. One death was reported on the island. According to CEDIM, Anguilla's economy could suffer at least 0 million in losses from the hurricane.
Large swells ahead of Irma washed ashore debris and sea life in , Saint Lucia, blocking some roads. Seaside roads were inundated with water. One surfer was killed amid rough surf in after hitting a reef and breaking his neck. Trees were also destroyed. The hurricane's effects, such as violent seas and rattling trees, were intense enough to be detected by seismographs in . Several houses were damaged. Around 8,000 households and a water supply network on that island lost power during the storm, leaving several communes in the dark without running water. Overall damage was limited to external parts of houses and trees that were blown onto roads and three unmanned ships wrecked by rough seas.
endured similar conditions to other islands. Blustery rainstorms triggered scattered power outages and disabled the island's water system, but per the , the islands were spared the level of destruction seen elsewhere. Still, Prime Minister stated that property and infrastructure had sustained "significant damage." The Dutch territories of and were also struck by the hurricane's winds, resulting in infrastructural damage, water shortages and telecommunication outages. Several houses were left uninhabitable. On Saba, the hurricane also defoliated trees and injured a few people. CEDIM's analysts expect economic losses of –65 million for the two islands.
Main article:imagery by of the Virgin Islands from before Hurricane Irma's impact on August 25, 2017, and after on September 10, 2017, depicting a "browning" of the landscape and vegetation.
Damage in the was extensive. Numerous buildings and roads were destroyed on the island of , which bore the brunt of the hurricane's core. Four people were confirmed dead. Along Cane Garden Bay, the storm surge submerged several seaside bars and a gas station. Satellite images revealed many of the island's residential zones had been left in ruins. The hurricane passed over , also causing severe damage and destroying the mansion of .
Most homes and businesses were destroyed on the island of , the smallest of the B.V.I.'s four main islands. The , , who had only been sworn into office 13 days previously, declared a state of emergency - the first time this has ever happened in the Territory. After the storm, authorities estimated that it would take 6 months to restore public electricity to the entire country; an estimate which proved largely accurate.
Irma's effects in the were most profound on , where at least 12 inches (305 mm) of rain fell, and on . Saint Thomas island suffered widespread structural damage, including to its police station and airport. Patients from the fourth and third floors of 's hospital had to be relocated to lower floors due to flooding from roof leaks. Three deaths were attributed to Irma on the island. On nearby , there were communication issues and some damage to the infrastructure. Saint John lost access to ferry and cargo services, along with access to the local airport. Due to its normal reliance on electricity from Saint Thomas, the island was left without power.
Waves in reached 30 feet (9.1 m) in height; a 111 miles (179 km) per hour gust was measured on . Two people died due to rainstorms ahead of the hurricane: one man died in after falling off his ladder while repairing his roof; another man on the coast in died after being struck by lightning. Three nearby fishermen were burned by the same lightning strike, but survived. Two other people died during the hurricane: a woman died while being evacuated from her house in a wheelchair and fell from the same hitting her head; another person died in a car accident in . In rural , 79 homes were destroyed. More than a million residents lost power due to damages caused by the storm, according to former Puerto Rican Governor . Governor declared the islands of and to be disaster areas.
Although spared a direct hit, both the and were affected by high winds and heavy rains. A bridge over the connecting the two countries was broken.
In the Dominican Republic, the fishing community of sustained damage from waves that destroyed homes. 55,000 soldiers were deployed to affected areas to help with the clean-up efforts. By the evening of September 7, the government had counted 2,721 damaged homes.
In Haiti, flooding one meter deep sat in residential neighborhoods in places like , , and . Mudslides, destroyed homes, flooded crops, and infrastructure damage were reported in the northern part of the country. The total expanse of the flooding stretched from in the west to the eastern border with the Dominican Republic.
On the evening of September 7, at 7:30 pm AST (23:30 UTC), Hurricane Irma reached the . While the eye passed just south of the main islands, crossing over and the , the most powerful winds on the northern side of the eye swept all of the islands for more than two hours. Communications infrastructure was destroyed.
On September 8, Minister of Infrastructure Goldray Ewing confirmed that damage to was extensive, with the northwestern neighborhood of Blue Hill being "gone". The hospital in the capital, , was damaged, but no deaths or injuries have been reported as of yet. On South Caicos, 75% of roofs were lost. Total damage is unknown, but believed to exceed the 1 million toll of in 2008.
In , the eye of the storm passed over Duncan Town, the major settlement of the , on September 8. It also passed "almost directly over" and , according to the Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
Damages were largely confined to the southern islands starting the morning of September 8. On and , downed power lines knocked out communications. On Great Inagua, 70% of homes sustained roof damage, and the island's school lost its roof entirely. The 's signature production facility, one of the major employers in the country, experienced millions of dollars in damages. The Acklins settlement of Salina Point was cut off from the rest of the island by flooding, while had widespread roof damage. In the northern Bahamas, the worst property damage came on September 10 as the outer bands of the system produced on and . Damage and losses across The Bahamas amounted to 5 million.
While Irma was making landfall in Florida, the ocean was drawn away from some western shorelines of the Bahamas due to strong easterly winds.
Early on September 9, Irma made landfall on the off the northern coast of , with sustained winds of 165 mph (270 km/h). Throughout the country, the hurricane inflicted 13.6 billion (US3.3 million) in damage and killed 10 people. More than 158,000 homes suffered damage, of which 14,657 were destroyed; approximately 1.9 million people experienced the direct effects of Irma.
The weather station at was damaged, with the wind gauge destroyed. According to , northern Cuba experienced "waves more than 16 feet high, and damage to hospitals, factories and warehouses."
By the afternoon of September 9, Irma had weakened to Category 2 due to the Cuban topography but continued to cause significant damage. The tourist areas of , and and the nearby town of received the brunt of the storm, with waves rolling through town and the characteristic one-story homes completely flooded. Flooding worsened as the hurricane moved west, pushing the along to the regions around . By the afternoon, limited flooding was occurring in Havana, including around the . Widespread destruction of housing was reported in the provinces of and . In the city of , 39 buildings collapsed.
Hurricane Irma directly impacted a major colony of on Cuba's northern . Early reports from Diario de Cuba indicated that several hundred flamingos had been killed by the storm, though other estimates ranged as high as several thousand birds.
Hurricane Irma affected multiple states in the South, especially Florida. Except the Florida Keys, the total damage Irma caused was not as great as government officials and forecasters had warned. Hurricane Irma weakened after making landfall in Cuba, but strengthened back into a Category 4 prior to hitting the Keys. The Florida Keys suffered the worst of the damage in the United States. After surveying the aftermath of Irma, Florida governor said "I thought we would see more damage" [on the mainland] but said "he witnessed devastation in the Keys". commented on that the devastation in some places was "far greater than anyone thought".
Damage in the United States was estimated at a minimum of billion. At the time, Irma was the fourth costliest tropical cyclone in the United States, behind hurricanes in 2012, earlier that year, and in 2005. However, later in September 2017, became the third costliest United States tropical cyclone, causing Irma to fall to the fifth costliest. At least 92 people died throughout the United States in relation to Hurricane Irma: 84 in Florida, 3 in Georgia, 3 in South Carolina, and 2 in North Carolina. The hurricane left more than 9.2 million power outages.
Main article:Light pole with lamp torn away and landing about 50 ft (15 m) away - Miami Beach
The storm's large wind field resulted in strong winds across much of Florida, except for the western Panhandle. The highest reported sustained wind speed was 112 mph (180 km/h) on , while the strongest observed wind gust was 142 mph (229 km/h), recorded near , though wind gusts of 150 to 160 mph (240 to 260 km/h) likely occurred in the Middle . More than 7.7 million homes and businesses in Florida were left without electricity at some point – approximately 73.33% of state. Generally heavy amounts of rainfall were recorded to the east of the Irma's path, including a peak total of 21.66 in (550 mm) in . Heavy precipitation – and storm surge, in some instances – overflowed at least 32 rivers and creeks, causing in significant flooding, particularly along the and its tributaries. Many homes and businesses suffered damage or destruction, with more than 65,000 structures damaged to some degree in West Central and Southwest Florida alone. Agriculture experienced about .5 billion in damage. It was estimated that the cyclone caused at least billion in damage, making Irma the costliest hurricane in Florida history, surpassing .
Throughout Florida, at least 84 people died in storm-related incidents. About half of the deaths occurred from drowning, trauma, and carbon monoxide poisoning. The first Irma-related death in Florida occurred on September 8, when a man fell off a ladder while installing hurricane shutters in . had 21 fatalities, the most of any county in Florida. Among those deaths were 12 people at , a nursing home. The patients died from sweltering heat worsened by the lack of air conditioning. The hurricane also left at least 14 deaths in (location of the ); 6 deaths in ; 5 deaths each in , , and counties; 4 deaths in both and counties; 3 deaths in both and counties; 2 deaths each in , , , , , and counties; and 1 death in , , , , , , , , , , and counties.Boats washed up on in the Florida Keys
With Irma making landfall in Monroe County as a Category 4 hurricane, the Florida Keys were hardest hit area in the state. Strong winds and storm surge flooding caused major damage to buildings, , boats, roads, the electricity supply, mobile phone coverage, internet access, sanitation, the water supply and the fuel supply throughout the island chain. An estimated 10 ft (3 m) storm surge occurred at , where Irma made landfall. Throughout the island, 625 homes sustained minor damage, 52 sustained major damage, and 81 were demolished. On , one of the most devastated islands, 633 homes received minor impact, 299 homes received major impact, and 473 homes were completely destroyed. Overall in Monroe County, 27,649 homes experienced some degree of damage, including 1,179 homes being destroyed, 2,977 homes receiving major damage, and 5,361 suffering minor damage.Hurricane Irma on September 10, just before landfall on Florida. can be seen to the lower right.
After devastating the Keys, the storm then struck Collier County as a Category 3 hurricane. Several communities in the county suffered extensive damage, especially along the coast. Throughout the unincorporated areas of the county, 65 homes, including 44 mobile homes, were demolished, while 1,008 homes received major damage. Property damages in unincorporated areas alone reach about 0 million. Lee County was lashed by strong winds and heavy rainfall, which caused prolonged flooding in some areas. More than 24,000 homes suffered some degree of damage, with almost 3,000 homes receiving major damage and 89 homes being destroyed. Damage in the county totaled about 7 million.
Impact in much of the was generally limited to extensive tree and fence damage, as well as widespread power outages. However, in , about 1,000 homes received major damage and about 50% of crops were lost. Storm surge caused coastal flooding from to , as well as in portions of . Parts of the were devastated by high winds and flooding, particularly Hendry and Highlands counties. Both counties experienced a near-total loss of electricity. In the former, which has most citrus trees of any county in Florida, about 60% of orange crops were lost. Throughout Hendry County, a total of 451 homes had minor damage, 131 homes suffered major damage, and 42 others were destroyed. In Highlands County, 13,138 businesses and homes were damaged to some degree, with 144 being destroyed, 963 sustaining major damage, and 2,408 receiving minor damage. Strong winds and heavy rainfall in left some wind damage and extensive flooding, especially in parts of Lake, Orange, Seminole, and Volusia counties, necessitating evacuations and rescues, including more than 200 people in after hundreds of homes were flooded. A total of 2,999 business or homes were damaged in Lake County, 7,430 in Seminole County, and 3,457 in Volusia County. Additionally, eight tornadoes touched down in , all of which caused damage.Overflight of Jacksonville after Hurricane Irma
Along much of the Gulf Coast of Florida, to the north of where Irma made landfall, negative storm surges were observed, with water retracting rather than pushing inland, causing little coastal flooding. However, on the opposite coast, extensive erosion and storm surge flooding occurred in the , especially in Duval and St. Johns counties. In Duval County, the St. Johns River crested at heights that exceeded records set during in 1964. Portions of experienced flooding, particularly the and the and neighborhoods, with about 350 people rescued in those sections of the city. Water reached about 5 ft (1.5 m) high in some homes. The city of Jacksonville suffered about million in damage.
In St. Johns County, storm surge left extensive damage to oceanfront properties in and , with several becoming uninhabitable. Additionally, some riverfront businesses in 's were flooded due to storm surge from the . In nearby , rainfall and storm surge combined to cause extensive flooding along portions of the and the St. Johns River, with record high crests at several locations along the former. About 350 people and 75 animals were rescued from floodwaters throughout the county. A total of 275 homes were destroyed, 175 were inflicted major damage, and 124 received minor damage.
Three deaths were reported in due to falling trees and debris, along with widespread wind damage and power outages throughout the state primarily due to fallen trees. On , as well as the storm surge caused extensive flooding.
In , the third highest storm surge on record was recorded, reaching a height of approximately 10 ft (3 m). By of September 12, almost 100,000 had lost power in South Carolina. Five people died in storm-related incidents across South Carolina, all from indirect incidents.
Light damage occurred in other areas, including . About 75,000 customers in lost power due to Irma.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Irma's path through the West Indies and Caribbean, the devastation to roads, harbors and airports significantly impeded the transportation and distribution of relief supplies. Foreign countries moved to provide much of the initial aid. The British, Dutch, French, and United States governments sent warships and planes with supplies and manpower to the region. International leaders, including Dutch King and French President , quickly moved to visit affected territories.
Some of the affected countries and territories also offered assistance to each other. Cuba, which sustained extensive damage from the storm, sent 750 health workers to Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, Dominica, and Haiti. Government officials and members of the public in Puerto Rico delivered assistance and evacuated people stranded on other islands. The granted special 30-day humanitarian visas for British Virgin Islanders to stay in Puerto Rico. Hundreds of people stranded on Saint Martin were flown to the Dominican Republic on humanitarian grounds.
In response to Hurricane Jose's approach, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda issued a mandatory evacuation on September 9 for any remaining residents on Barbuda. A Miami cargo plane landed on Antigua later that day, carrying over 60 tons (120,000 lbs) of relief supplies for the displaced storm victims—including bottled water, canned food and power generators.
stationed itself near Anguilla and provided support and relief work to the island with its helicopters and 40 marines and army engineers. The ship delivered 6 tonnes of emergency aid to Anguilla and army engineers repaired a fuel leak at Anguilla's main petrol dump, restored power to the island's hospital and provided shelters for those left homeless by the hurricane. The ship arrived in the British Virgin Islands on September 8, 2017 to provide emergency relief to the islands, including providing shelters, food and water. was diverted from the to provide relief from to the affected British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos on September 7, 2017, and aid is also being supplied by the from their disaster response centre at . As part of a £32 million operation named Operation Ruman, nearly 500 UK military personnel with emergency relief were dispatched from . This included the first deployment of with 3 RAF aircraft; 2 Airbus A400M Atlas and 1 C130J hercules to support relief efforts.RAF A400M ATLAS delivers UK AID on OP RUMAN
The British government also drafted 2 members of the UK police calibre into the region on September 10, 2017 and 53 police officers were drafted from RAF Brize Norton to the affected British Overseas Territories on September 15, 2017 to help maintain order. UK politicians, including the chairs of the foreign affairs and development select committees, criticized both the government's preparations for the storm and its response as inadequate.Royal Marines delivering aid and providing support to the islanders of , British Virgin Islands
By September 12, 2017, the Department for International Development had delivered more than 40 tonnes of aid into the region, including into Turks and Caicos, and 1,000 UK military troops were deployed in the region as part of relief efforts. The , , pledged an additional £25 million worth of funding as part of relief efforts in the region on September 13, 2017 and the , , said that a further 250 UK military personnel would be deployed into the area within the next few days. Anguilla's Chief Minister, , praised the British government's response to the storm and said that Boris Johnson's visit to the island "sends a very positive signal to Anguillans that the British are serious about their response to this very severe hurricane", but went on to say that the current financial commitment from the UK was not substantial enough.
By September 15, 2017, the United Kingdom had over 70 military personnel and 4 police officers in Anguilla and had delivered 15 tonnes of aid to the island. In the British Virgin Islands, Royal Marines had cleared the airfield so that it was operational for the delivery of aid into the islands, with more than 200 British military personnel and 54 UK police officers on the ground and 8 tonnes of aid delivered to the islands. 120 British military personnel were on the ground in Turks and Caicos, and over 150 shelter kits and 720 liters of water were delivered to the islands on September 15.
Amendments to international aid rules by the (or OECD) allowed for the UK government to provide access to £13 billion worth of aid to the affected British Overseas Territories, through the UK's (ODA) by November 2017.
By the afternoon of September 9, Bahamas Power and Light Company had dispatched crews across the archipelago to repair infrastructure damage. The southernmost islands, which were most severely affected by Irma's eye, remained largely inaccessible for days. Assessments showed that 15% of the national telecommunications network had been affected, with at least one tower destroyed. resumed a limited domestic schedule on September 10, with international flights still cancelled due to existing and anticipated destruction at other destinations.
The worst devastation occurred on , over which Irma's eye had directly passed. After days of the National Emergency Management Agency not being able to physically reach the island, officials were finally able to inspect it; they promptly declared it uninhabitable. Prime Minister said that it was the worst disaster area he or his officials had ever seen, and that all remaining residents would need to leave, potentially permanently. Business leaders and other officials called for a new long-term development model to shift the population away from such sparsely-settled islands.
On and , where tornadoes associated with Irma touched down on September 10, more than 100 people were left displaced. Infrastructure damage included docks, parks, and the power system.
Aside from tangible asset losses, Irma brought significant economic damages. International freight shipping was projected to be offline for a week, and costs for rebuilding supplies were inflated due to demand in the U.S.
Swollen rivers contributed to worsening flooding in the days after the storm system left, resulting in additional evacuations. Officials resorted to using inflatable rafts to access affected areas. The national electrical infrastructure was said to be extensively damaged.
In the Dominican Republic, flooding worsened following Irma's departure, leading the number of displaced persons to increase to more than 24,000 by September 8. President ordered further evacuations due to at-risk dams, while the government banned swimming in rivers and ordered boats kept in port. More than 422,000 people were left without water due to 28 aqueducts being damaged.
In Haiti, officials stated that losses were greater than they could have been since people largely did not heed early preparation and evacuation warnings. At least 5,000 homes were flooded. One man died trying to cross a flooded river; another went missing and 17 were injured. The trash- and waste-contaminated floodwaters in places like , , and led to fears of outbreaks. Flooding continued to worsen days after the storm, as runoff from the mountains swelled rivers in low-lying farming communities. United Nations peacekeepers from were able to gain access to the flooded northwest region to provide urgent aid, but non-governmental organizations and Haitian economists warned that the estimated 30,000 victims would need longer-term assistance as well. Prime Minister appointed a government commission to address Irma's effects, with in charge of humanitarian coordination.
By September 9, more than one million Puerto Ricans were still without power, tens of thousands were without water, and several thousand were still in shelters. Hospitals were operating on generator power. The government was struggling to establish contact with the islands of and .
By September 10, the main island had recovered enough to serve as a refuge for people stranded on other islands, including 1,200 tourists from Saint Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Airlifts had brought more than 50 patients to Puerto Rico.
Damage to Sint Maarten's harbour and to left the Dutch part of Saint Martin unreachable, although the smaller on the French side could be reopened by September 7 for supply aid by helicopter and airplane. The French armed forces based in and flew equipment and troops on board a aircraft.
The following day, the Dutch military was able to airlift patients off the island while also dropping leaflets to warn islanders about the rapidly approaching . Although the airport was closed, 435 students and faculty of the American University of the Caribbean were evacuated by the U.S. military. On September 10, Dutch King Willem-Alexander departed for the region, with intentions to visit Sint Maarten and other affected Dutch territories and commonwealth members.
French President Emmanuel Macron followed this announcement by stating his intentions to visit the French part of the island on September 12 in order to bring aid supplies. In response to criticism of the French handling of the disaster, 1,000 troops, police, and other emergency workers were sent to Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy.
On both sides of Saint Martin, desperate conditions combined with food and water shortages in Irma's aftermath led to reports of violence, scavenging, and theft. In response, the French government increased its troop deployment to 2,200 and the Dutch government sent more than 600 military and police personnel.
The day after the hurricane hit the French armed forces based in and flew equipment and troops into the reopened . On September 7 and 9, equipment and personnel were flown from France to Guadeloupe and .
There were sporadic reports of and burglaries at several businesses with the theft of non-essential items such as and during the height of the storm.
On September 11, Florida Governor conducted an aerial tour to survey the damage to the Keys. The remained closed while authorities assessed the integrity of the 42 bridges along the route. Residents returning to the Keys were faced with a police roadblock, to the south of ., and aircraft carrier were sent to the Keys area to aid with the recovery.
On September 12, some residents were allowed to return into the Keys as far as . Although road damage blocked entry any further than Islamorada, bridges had been inspected and found safe to . By late on September 12, the Overseas Highway had been repaired and the bridges inspected as safe for to travel to Key West. On September 16, residents were free to return to Marathon. Residents were allowed to return to Key West the following day, although the Keys remained closed to tourists and a checkpoint remained in place in Florida City.Nighttime satellite images of Florida before (left) and the night after (right) Hurricane Irma, highlighting the extensive loss of grid (mains) electricity
By September 12, almost 4.4 million homes and businesses in Florida were without power, according to state officials. Due mainly to the widespread loss of power, cell phone service was also significantly impacted after battery backup power for cell phone towers ran out and backup generators ran out of fuel. In an impact report by the , as of 11 AM EDT on September 12, 89 of 108 (82%) cell phone towers were non-functioning in Monroe County (Florida Keys), 154 of 212 (73%) were non-functioning in Collier County (Naples), 36 of 46 (78%) were non-functioning in , and an additional six counties had 41-60% of cell phone towers not functioning, including Lee County (Ft. Myers) and Miami-Dade County.
From September 12, released map-format aerial reconnaissance image data along the length of the Keys, and the coast around Naples and .
In the days after the hurricane, due to the heavy rainfall, numerous rivers had flooded their surrounding land, including residential areas. Public health risks, such as diarrheal infections and mosquito-borne illnesses, remain from the flooding that resulted in the aftermath of the hurricane. A large concern from flooding is contamination because people become exposed to dirty floodwaters and the potential for contaminated water to get into the local water supply is significant. One example of an illness that can get into the water supply is , which is caused by rat urine being in the floodwaters. If people are exposed to leptospirosis and do not get treatment, it can cause kidney damage, , and liver failure. and other infections are also a risk.
Following Irma's passage, a 15 ft (4.6 m) hand-carved wooden canoe was discovered on the banks of the and could be several hundred years old. The state has removed the canoe for examination and safe keeping.
Due to Irma's and 's impact in Florida and Texas, the U.S. employment declined in September for the first time since September 2010. The leisure and hospitality industries were especially hard hit, losing 111,000 jobs in the month of September.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, residents and tourists alike were described as being in a state of traumatic shock. By September 7, the amphibious assault ship had arrived in the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide supplies, damage assessment, and evacuation assistance. Four additional warships, some of which had already been on their way to Texas to assist with relief, were redirected to the region. The National Guard was delayed in reaching Saint John due to the number of overturned boats left in the harbor.
At a September 10 news conference, Governor described Irma as a "horrific disaster" for which "[t]here will be no restorations or solutions in days or weeks." The airlifted in goods for residents, who were subjected to a curfew. and agreed to transport tourists to Florida, contingent upon port availability following the state's own experience with Irma.
On Saint John, which was described by The Washington Post as "perhaps the site of Irma's worst devastation on American soil," it took six days for an active-theater disaster zone to be established, leading to criticism of the U.S. government response. The National Guard was brought in to maintain order, while the Coast Guard brought evacuees to cruise ships bound for and Miami.
There was still no electricity on St. John in the middle of October 2017.
Irma set multiple records for intensity, especially at easterly longitudes, time spent at such an intensity, and its intensity at landfall. When Irma reached Category 5 intensity with winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) at 11:45 UTC on September 5 at 57.7°W, it became the easternmost Atlantic hurricane of this strength on record, surpassing of .
By 00:15 UTC on September 6, Irma reached peak intensity with 180 mph (285 km/h) winds and a minimum of 914 mbar (914 hPa; 27.0 inHg). This ties it with of and of as the fifth-strongest Atlantic hurricane by wind speed. Only four other Atlantic hurricanes have been recorded with wind speeds higher than Irma: of , which had maximum sustained winds of 190 mph (305 km/h), and the , of , and of , all of which had peak winds of 185 mph (295 km/h).
Upon reaching peak intensity, Irma also became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the outside the and , as well as the since Wilma in terms of , and the most intense in terms of pressure since in . In addition, Irma achieved one of the , and the third-highest (ACE) index for a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin, with a value of 64.9 units. Only the and in 2004 achieved higher values.
On September 6, Irma made landfall on the islands of , and at peak strength. This ties Irma with cyclones of and of , and typhoons of and of as the fifth-strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall globally – in terms of sustained winds – trailing only of and of , which bore winds of 190 mph (305 km/h) at landfall, and the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and of , which bore winds of 185 mph (295 km/h) at landfall. Irma is second to the as the strongest landfalling cyclone on record in the Atlantic basin, and is the first hurricane to make landfall anywhere in the Atlantic at Category 5 status since in 2007. Irma is also the first recorded Category 5 hurricane to affect the northern , and was one of the worst storms to hit the region on record, along with in and in . In addition, Irma was only the second hurricane on record to make landfall in Cuba at Category 5 intensity, with the other being .
Irma made landfall in the with winds of 130 mph (215 km/h) and a pressure of 931 mbar (hPa; 27.49 inHg), making it the strongest hurricane to strike Florida in terms of wind speed since in , and the most intense to strike the state in terms of barometric pressure since in . In the span of two weeks, two Category 4 hurricanes— and Irma—struck the continental United States, the first time on record two Atlantic tropical cyclones of such strength made landfall on the country in the same hurricane season. This also marked only the third occurrence of two consecutive Atlantic storms making landfall in the United States as major hurricanes. The other two instances were the / hurricanes in , and hurricanes / in 2004.
On April 11, 2018, at the 40th session of the RA IV hurricane committee, the retired the name Irma from its rotating naming lists, due to the extensive amount of damage and loss of life it caused in the northeastern Caribbean and the United States, particularly in Florida, and it will never again be used for another . It will be replaced with Idalia for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.