Hurricane Irma likely among top 5 fiercest Atlantic hurricanes; expected on Dutch islands at noon

Suomi NPP/VIIRS satellite view of Hurricane Irma on 03 September 2017
Suomi NPP/VIIRS satellite view of Hurricane Irma on 03 September 2017. Photo: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the islands of Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius and Saba, all part of the Dutch Kingdom, at noon on Wednesday (Netherlands time), according to NU.nl. The hurricane is considered a class five hurricane, the fiercest category on the Saffir-Simmpson scale. With wind speeds of 295 kilometers per hour measured, Irma is in the top 5 of fiercest Atlantic hurricanes, RTL Nieuws reports. 

The hurricane will hit Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday morning. The authorities on the two Caribbean islands called on residents to seek shelter.

According to meteorological institute KNMI, in addition to the strong winds, rain and flood waves can also be "very threatening" to the islands. The rainfall can result in mudflows and landslides. Flood waves are expected to cause problems, as most of the buildings are located on the south side of the islands - exactly where the wind comes from, according to NU.nl.

The Dutch Ministry of Defense deployed some 300 men to the islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius, to give assistance when the hurricane hits, according Caribisch Netwerk. Among them are some 145 soldiers from Aruba and Curacao. According to the broadcaster, the islands often ask for military assistance when a hurricane threatens, but this time the need for is assistance is greater than normal.

According to Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, it is not yet clear whether the hurricane will pass close by the islands in the Netherlands Kingdom, or hit them squarely. "It will be stressful to the last and we will support each other", he said on Tuesday night,.

The soldiers sent to the islands will help maintain public order, map the damages and help direct residents to places to shelter, according to Carbisch Netwerk. A cargo ship and station ship carrying two helicopters and fast rubber boats were also deployed to the islands.

"We are taking into account a lot of misery and many forms of damage", Peter Jan de Vin, Commander of the Sea Force in the Caribbean area, said to the broadcaster. At the moment, the military assistance is set to last until Sunday. "We are assuming the worst, but of course, we hope that it won't be that serious", De Vin said. "It is difficult to estimate at this time, but if we come to the conclusion that this assistance is needed for longer on Thursday or Friday, the local authorities will make that request."

The five most powerful hurricanes ever registered in the Atlantic Ocean:

  • Ellen, 1980 - wind speeds up to 305 km/h
  • Labor Day, 1935 - wind speeds up to 295 km/h
  • Gilbert, 1988 - wind speeds up to 295 km/h
  • Irma, 2017 - wind speeds up to 295 km/h
  • Wilma, 2005 - wind speeds up to 295 km/h

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