Hurricane Irma threatens island nations and US
Hurricane season in the Atlantic has dished up another hurricane which is threatening parts of the West Indies, the Saints islands, Puerto Rico and the state of Florida in the US.
While America's National Hurricane Center says its still too early to tell if Hurricane Irma will hit Florida, Governor Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties.
Hurricane Irma has turned into a Category 4 storm overnight and is east of the Leeward Islands including Puerto Rico and is expected to pass over the islands on Wednesday.
Winds are already up to 209km/h and expected to strengthen further before making landfall while the Caribbean islands of St Kitts, Nevis and St Barts have issued a hurricane warning. Other islands affected include Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Martin, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten. A hurricane watch is also operational in the British and US Virgin islands and Guadeloupe while Dominica says its preparing for a tropical storm associated with Hurricane Irma.
Weather forecasters warned months ago that this seasons' hurricane period would be characterised by more violent storms as global warming increases the energy available and parts of the Atlantic have recorded the highest temperatures since records began.
The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA says the average surface temperature of the world’s oceans has changed since 1880. The data alongside shows how the average between 1971 and 2000 is used as a baseline to track change. It's clear that the higher temperatures year on year would lead to increased power in hurricanes, and the present season has borne out the EPA premise.
The EPA also reports that worldwide a band of high temperature has increased over the central regions and oceans. The map shows how the average temperature has changed between 1901 and 2015, and the EPA says its based on a combination of direct measurements and satellite measurements.