Irma Wipes Out Weather Station, Devours Tropical Islands
Hurricane Irma appears to have overpowered the weather station on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts.
The station went silent at 9am UTC, the French Observatory of Tornadoes and Violent Storms reported.
Satellite imagery captured the tiny island (less than 10 square miles) in the eye of the hurricane 45 minutes later.
St. Barts is a French-speaking island known for its white sand beaches, high-end French restaurants, and historical sights like the 17th-century Fort Karl which keeps watch over Shell Beach.
But at sunrise on Wednesday, it was left in devastation.
It is one of many islands in the region facing what is being described as the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history.
While the weather station that went offline was built for a region that sees hurricanes every year, Hurricane Irma is a storm of unprecedented magnitude.
Video from the British Virgin Islands—one of the first regions to feel the storm—shows Irma’s power.
Hurricane Irma has topped the charts measuring severity, having reached Category 5 status as it rips its way through the Caribbean. The storm has been downing trees and destroying homes as it batters tropical paradises.
While Irma assails Peurto Rico tonight and the Dominican Republic braces for its arrival Thursday morning, Florida remains on high alert, hopeful Irma loses steam before making landfall on the U.S. mainland on Friday.
St. Barts’s neighboring island of St. Martin was placed into a state of near-martial law after the governor authorized the head of the national guard there to seize weapons and take “whatever actions she considers necessary” to maintain or restore public order.
Here is video footage from PTZtv from early Wednesday morning from the island’s Maho Beach—famous for the planes that fly just overhead to land at Princess Juliana International Airport across the road.