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Category 4 Hurricane Irma bearing down on Leeward Islands

Published:Tuesday | September 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM

A powerful Category 4 hurricane is bearing down on the Leeward Islands on Tuesday with Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla and Montserrat expected to be severely impacted within the next 24 hours.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Hurricane Irma, with winds of 150 miles per hour (mph) was moving toward the west near 14 mph and this general motion is expected to continue Tuesday  followed by a turn toward the west-northwest tonight.

“On the forecast track, the core of Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands tonight and early Wednesday,” it said, adding that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 150 mph with higher gusts.

“Irma is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 hurricane,” the NHC added.

Several governments have already warned residents to take precautions to safeguard lives and properties and have also announced a shutdown of schools, businesses and urged emergency crews to be on standby.

“I also encourage the business community to be lenient with their employees by affording them sufficient time off from work in advance of the hurricane so that they can adequately prepare their own families and households in good time,” St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris said, urging everyone to take the threat of the hurricane seriously.