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"Monster" Irma Is Now The Strongest Atlantic Hurricane On Record As Florida Preps For "Catastrophe"

"Monster" Irma Is Now The Strongest Atlantic Hurricane On Record As Florida Preps For "Catastrophe"


ZERO HEDGE reports:

Update 3: The Irma hits just keep on coming, with the NHC Atlantic Ops twitter page reporting that as of this moment, Irma is now the stronger hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in NHC records. “Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area,” the NHC said.

Taking things to the next level, literally, meteorologist Eric Holthaus writes that Hurricane Irma is now expected to *exceed* the theoretical maximum intensity for a storm in its environment, or as he puts it "Redefining the rules."

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello urged the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory to seek refuge in one of 460 hurricane shelters before the storm is expected to hit as early as Tuesday night. “This is something without precedent,” Rossello told a news conference. He will ask U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a federal state of emergency even before the storm passes to allow disbursement of U.S. emergency funds.

Gary Randall, head of the Blue Waters Resort on Antigua’s north coast, said the staff had boarded up windows, stripped trees of coconuts and fronds and secured anything that could become a hazard. “I wasn’t that nervous yesterday, but today I‘m nervous,” Randall said by telephone, adding that he expected the hotel’s beach to be swept away and much of the 108-room property to be flooded.

According to Bloomberg, Irma’s current path - headed straight for Florida - has prompted the state to prepare for the "catastrophic" system.

Unlike Harvey, which caused widespread damage, power outages and flooding and taking almost a fifth of U.S. oil refining capacity offline, Irma is a bigger threat to agriculture, with orange juice futures surging.

Airlines have canceled flights across the Caribbean and are adding planes to evacuate tourists, while cruise-line stocks have tumbled.

A strike on Florida would be the first time since 1964 that the U.S. was hit by back-to-back storms of Category 3 or more and only the second time since 1851, Henson said. Irma is now among the 7 most powerful storms on record to cross the Atlantic.

“Our biggest concern is Florida citrus,” said Joel Widenor, co-founder of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. “There is big enough fruit on the trees that the fruit could drop off, it could literally get blown off. The bigger issue is tree damage that is a lot harder to recover from.”

Some more facts: Florida is the world’s largest producer of orange juice after Brazil. About two-thirds of the state’s citrus crop is located in the lower two-thirds of the peninsula. Orange juice for November delivery jumped as much as 6.9 percent to $1.4595 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. Tuesday, the biggest intraday gain for the contract since Jan. 28, 2016. Cotton for December delivery jumped by the 3-cent exchange limit, or 4.2 percent, to 74.88 cents a pound. Aggregate trading for both commodities for this time doubled compared with the 100-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week,” the National Hurricane Center said after Governor Rick Scott declared an emergency.

There is still hope that a direct hit will be avoided: "The expected path has shifted considerably west over the last two days and can still change over the next two," said Olivier Jakob, founder of energy consultant Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland. “We cannot yet rule out a move further west with a Louisiana risk.”

Irma’s track could shift as it nears Cuba and Florida, according to Bob Henson, a meteorologist with Weather Underground in Boulder, Colorado. One possibility is a turn to the north that would take the storm up the Florida peninsula.

“It is four to five days away,” Henson said. “In hurricane-land that is a pretty long time span.”

Beyond the threat to people and property in the Caribbean, the focus for now is on agriculture, Jakob said. Irma is leading traders to be “long orange Juice futures rather than gasoline futures," he said.

Only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the contiguous 48 U.S. states, Henson told Bloomberg. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 that devastated the Florida Keys, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Andrew that cut across Florida in 1992. Andrew was originally classified as a Category 4 storm only to be upgraded years later after further analysis.

“It is obviously a rare breed,” Henson said. “We are in rare territory.”

ALERT -- Gov. Rick Scott urges Floridians to get out before Irma hits

ALERT -- Gov. Rick Scott urges Floridians to get out before Irma hits

Video: MSNBC Laughs At Trump For Helping Flooding Victims

Video: MSNBC Laughs At Trump For Helping Flooding Victims