Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma Headed For Florida, Hurricane N Korea Headed For The U.S.

Irma closing in on Leeward Islands on track headed for Florida

Irma spun into a monster storm Tuesday morning with sustained winds topping 180 mph, becoming the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in their 11 a.m. advisory.
As the hurricane churns closer to the U.S. coast, its path becomes more certain, with South Florida, particularly the Keys, increasingly likely to take a hit. Tropical storm force winds could arrive as early as Friday. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties and has all 7,000 members of the state’s National Guard to report to duty on Friday.
Because Irma is so large, forecasters urged caution in paying too much attention to its exact track. The storm is continuing to roll west at 14 mph, with winds expected to begin battering the Leeward Islands today. A powerful high pressure ridge is steering the storm and will likely stay in place over the next few days, forecasters said. In five days, a trough moving across the U.S. should begin weakening the western edge of the ridge, allowing the storm to slide north. Where Irma makes the turn will determine impacts to Florida.

Monroe County announced that it will begin issuing mandatory evacuation orders for visitors at sunrise Wednesday. Residents will also be ordered to leave, although no time has yet been determined, county officials said. Schools and county offices will also be closed, beginning Wednesday.

“If ever there was a storm to take seriously in the Keys, this is it,” Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said. “The sooner people leave, the better.”
Dangerous conditions, with hurricane force winds, are expected to hit the Leeward Islands tonight and Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Fierce hurricane winds extend 60 miles from Irma’s center, with tropical storm force winds reaching another 160 miles.
Hurricane watches have also been issued for portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, with fierce winds, storm surge and heavy rain Thursday and Friday. In Puerto Rico, the governor has declared a state of emergency and is preparing to open 456 shelters that can house more than 62,000. Puerto Rico’s power company also warned that Irma could cut off the island’s electricity for four to six months.

North Korea said Tuesday it will "respond in our own ways" to any new sanctions that may be put in place following Pyongyang's latest nuclear test. 
According to Yonhap, In a Q&A session with the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean foreign ministry spokesman blasted the United States for leading the international efforts to adopt a fresh sanctions resolution. Flipping the table on Nikki Haley's Monday Statement that North Korea is begging for war, North Korea said that it was the US that a “heinous aggressor who is begging for war." 
"Testing an H-bomb for an intercontinental ballistic rocket is a normal process that we must carry out to accomplish our policy of byongjin," the spokesman said, referring to the North's signature policy of seeking nuclear armament and economic development.
"In the face of the U.S. scheme of putting pressure through sanctions, we'll respond in our own ways," he added. "And the U.S. will be fully responsible for the catastrophic consequences that follow."
KCNA also said that the US "should not forget even for a moment about the presence of the DPRK, the full- fledged nuclear power in possession of ICBM as well as A-bomb and H-bomb”
As a reminder, the U.S. and South Korea reportedly want new sanctions to include a cutoff of oil supplies to the North, though China appears reluctant to take a measure that it worries would lead to the collapse of its neighbor.
Earlier on Tuesday, North Korea said its recent missile launch and other “self-defense” measures were a “gift package” to the United States and warned other such gifts are on the way if Washington continues its “reckless provocations.”  
“The recent self-defense measures by my country, the DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US,” Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, said during an address to the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday. “The US will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he continued.
Meanwhile, also according to Yonhap, in the latest sign of escalation, South Korea and the U.S. had agreed to strengthen US asset deployment to the country, although it was unclear if any such deployment would also include the previously requested re-deployment of US tactical nuclear weapons.
So what happens next?  According to several sellside desks, if North Korea indeed launches an ICBM, as highly likely, it will be virtually impossible that the US could ignore it and some form of military response would be forthcoming.  Whether this was a massive military reinforcement of the RoK with ground troops and other assets, (full invocation of OPLAN 5027) or limited strikes against critical targets remains to be seen.

No comments: