Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Hurricane Irma lashes Cuba, with Jose close behind

HAVANA — Hurricane Irma battered Cuba on Saturday with deafening winds and relentless rain, pushing seawater inland that flooded homes and knocked out power across a wide area. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, islands already reeling from Irma prepared for a second pounding — from Hurricane Jose.

The twin Category 4 storms had desperate residents seeking shelter across the region. In Cuba, high winds from Irma upended trees, toppled utility poles and scattered debris across streets. Roads were blocked, and witnesses said a provincial museum near the eye of the storm was in ruins after being buffeted by brutal squalls.

LIVE BLOG: Latest updates on Hurricane Irma.

On the French overseas islands of St. Martin and St. Barts, Jose was expected to bring torrential rains and dangerous rip currents.

"The protection and shelter of people already harshly tested by Irma is the priority," officials said in a statement. More than 1,100 police, military officials and others have been deployed to both islands to provide help. Crews were evacuating the sick and injured to nearby Guadeloupe.

The last airplane flew in to the battered Grande-Case de Saint Martin airport Friday carrying emergency workers to help with reconstruction as well as specialists who aim to re-establish the island's cutoff water supply and electricity. Remaining mothers and children were flown out Friday in small 40-person capacity planes.

Irma claimed at least 20 lives as it leveled islands in the Caribbean and headed toward Florida, where a massive evacuation was in progress. The hurricane center said the storm slowed down after slamming into Cuba's northern coast, but that wind speeds would likely regain momentum as it approached the Sunshine State. The center said it is looking more likely that the eye of powerful Irma will strike the Florida Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region on Sunday.

COMPLETE COVERAGE:Find all our coverage about Hurricane Irma here

Early Saturday, the hurricane center said the storm was centered about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east-southeast of Varadero, Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph). Soldiers and government workers earlier had gone through coastal towns enforcing the evacuation, taking people to shelters at government buildings and schools — and even caves.

Many of Irma's victims fled their islands on ferries and fishing boats as Jose approached, threatening destruction for anything Irma might have left untouched. Early Saturday, Jose was located about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands. The storm was moving to the northwest at 13 mph (20 kph), with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Dutch Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, and tropical storm warnings were in effect for Barbuda and Anguilla, as well as Saba and St. Eustatius.

Some islands, though, received a last-minute reprieve as a hurricane warning for Barbuda and Anguilla was downgraded to a tropical storm. Both islands were devastated by Irma.

Many residents and tourists were left reeling after Irma ravaged some of the world's most exclusive tropical playgrounds, known for their turquoise waters and lush green vegetation. Among them: St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla.

Irma smashed homes, shops, roads and schools; knocked out power, water and telephone service; trapped thousands of tourists; and stripped trees of their leaves, leaving an eerie, blasted-looking landscape littered with sheet metal and splintered lumber.

The dead included 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands, four in the British Virgin Islands and one each on Anguilla and Barbuda.

Also, a 16-year-old junior professional surfer drowned Tuesday in Barbados while surfing large swells generated by an approaching Irma.

French authorities said Saturday that some 1,105 workers are now deployed St. Martin and St. Barts to help the islands' recovery. By Saturday, damage estimated to have already reached the 1.2 billion euro ($1.44 billion) mark — pockmarking the islands that have become famous as lush playgrounds for the rich and famous.

It's still not known if President Donald Trump's luxury property on St. Martin has been damaged by the storm.

Jalon Shortte said riding out Irma in his top-floor apartment on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, was the scariest thing he has ever been through.

The air pressure hurt his ears, trees fell on his roof, windows blew out and a door came off, he wrote on Facebook. The storm even took paint off the walls, he said.

His Facebook page was filled with images he took from around Tortola of sunken yachts, crushed vehicles and mounds of debris. He said looting was rampant.

Amid the devastation, Shortte worked to bring a water desalination plant online.

"We have to stick together and rebuild," he said.

Comments
Isolated thunderstorms to persists for rest of week across Tampa Bay

Isolated thunderstorms to persists for rest of week across Tampa Bay

The chance of rain is increasing for the second half of this week across Tampa Bay, starting Wednesday afternoon with the arrival of thunderstorms that could produce gusty winds and frequent downpours.A southwestern flow will dominate much of this we...
Published: 07/18/18
Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to pick up throughout Tampa Bay on Tuesday afternoon, along with continued blistering sunshine and high humidity.An increased chance of rain, around 60 percent, will continue throughout the week. A hig...
Published: 07/17/18
Forecast: Dry start to work week, but rain chances will build across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Dry start to work week, but rain chances will build across Tampa Bay

The work week will start of relatively dry across Tampa Bay, but rain chances will increase throughout the week with a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms near 50 percent on Friday.Skies will be mostly sunny on Monday, with only a 20 percen...
Published: 07/16/18
Seasonal weather remains consistent across Tampa Bay through weekend

Seasonal weather remains consistent across Tampa Bay through weekend

Tampa Bay residents can expect typical July weather patterns Friday and heading into the weekend as warm weather and sunshine leads to possible afternoon storms.The National Weather Service has most of the storms developing inland during the afternoo...
Published: 07/13/18
Chris downgraded to post-tropical cyclone, will bring rain, dangerous surf to Canada

Chris downgraded to post-tropical cyclone, will bring rain, dangerous surf to Canada

Although Chris may no longer be a hurricane, the storm could still have a significant impact on weather both on the East Coast and Canada as it races across the Atlantic and toward Canada.Hours after being downgraded to a tropical storm, Chris was de...
Published: 07/12/18
Continued high humidity with increased chance for afternoon thunderstorms in Tampa Bay

Continued high humidity with increased chance for afternoon thunderstorms in Tampa Bay

It should be a sunny Thursday around Tampa Bay with partly skies and a 20-30 percent chance of rain by the late afternoon.Most of those storms will be driven further inland by the coastal breeze sweeping in from the Gulf of Mexico, according to the N...
Published: 07/12/18
Continued heat and humidity across Tampa Bay, and more rain this weekend

Continued heat and humidity across Tampa Bay, and more rain this weekend

The second half of the week will continue Tampa Bay’s slow trek through the dog days of summer with afternoon heat indexes surpassing 100 degrees.Expect a hot and humid Wednesday as highs reach 92, with high humidity making it feel more like 100-105,...
Published: 07/11/18
Hurricane Chris quickly strengthens, generates dangerous surf on path to Canada

Hurricane Chris quickly strengthens, generates dangerous surf on path to Canada

The second hurricane of the 2018 season has quickly strengthened into a Category 2 storm that is moving away from the U.S. but making a bee-line toward Canada and, eventually, Iceland.As of Wednesday at 5 a.m., Hurricane Chris was situated about 315 ...
Published: 07/11/18
Pasco residents, officials use Irma’s lessons for upcoming hurricane plans

Pasco residents, officials use Irma’s lessons for upcoming hurricane plans

NEW PORT RICHEY — Melissa Detwiler, a resident of Seven Springs Trailer Park, bought her travel trailer in May 2017. When Hurricane Irma hit in September, she left it on the highest ground in the park and evacuated to Orlando.She and her trailer were...
Published: 07/11/18
Hurricane season 2018: Hernando County looks back on lessons learned from Irma

Hurricane season 2018: Hernando County looks back on lessons learned from Irma

Hurricane Irma last year left Hernando County with lots of flooding and downed trees, but also lessons about what to do better if another storm hits the area this year.About a month into hurricane season, the Tampa Bay Times spoke with county staff m...
Published: 07/11/18