Florida Major Hurricane Drought Broken; Irma Slams the Keys-Takes Aim at Southwest Florida

Irma made landfall in the lower Florida Keys near Cudjoe Key at 9:10 AM Sunday with 140 mph sustained winds. It is the first major hurricane to hit Florida since Wilma in 2005. It is also the first category 4 hurricane to hit the Sunshine State since Charley in 2004. A second landfall was in Marco Island as a category 3 hurricane with 130 mph winds at 3:35 PM. The eye wall hammered the Seven Mile Bridge and storm surge was extreme too. Wind gusts well over hurricane force are felt far from the center, including in 92 mph wind gust Miami at 1 PM. Unfortunately, for Marco Island and the Naples area an extreme storm surge event will occur alongside winds in excess of 115 mph. The massive hurricane will weaken after landfall due to some higher wind shear and interaction with land. The Tampa Bay area will see sustained winds of 70-90 mph, and higher gusts overnight Sunday into Monday. Widespread power outages are felt across the state.

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Storm surge and extreme waves are felt well from the center of Irma. As of 2 PM waves build to 20-30 feet in Southeast Florida. These lift north through central and northeast Florida Sunday night and Monday morning.

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A catastrophic storm surge will felt in Southwest Florida, which coincides with high tide. Storm surge is expected in the Tampa Bay area once Irma passes. This will occur during an early Monday morning high tide cycle.

Here is the official storm surge forecast:

Cape Sable to Captiva:10 to 15 ft
Captiva to Ana Maria Island:6 to 10 ft
Card Sound Bridge through Cape Sable, including the Florida Keys: 5 to 10 ft
Ana Maria Island to Clearwater Beach, including Tampa Bay: 5 to 8 ft
North Miami Beach to Card Sound Bridge, including Biscayne Bay: 3 to 5 ft
South Santee River to Fernandina Beach:4 to 6 ft
Clearwater Beach to Ochlockonee River:4 to 6 ft
Fernandina Beach to Jupiter Inlet:2 to 4 ft
North of North Miami Beach to Jupiter Inlet:1 to 2 ft

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Here is the 11 AM Irma track. Irma will rake the Tampa Bay area overnight Sunday into Monday. It will steadily weaken over land. Irma moves into southeast Georgia by Monday night.

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While Irma is a 24 hour rain event for most across the Sunshine State, hefty rainfall totals are likely. 10-15″ are likely from Southwest Florida up through Tampa Bay. Flooding is likely, especially in combination of storm surge.

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Hurricane Irma On Florida’s Doorstep

On Saturday evening, Hurricane Irma was about 90 miles southeast of Key West and slowly moving WNW. Max sustained winds were at 125 mph, but we are expecting intensification as it moves across the Florida Straits. Irma is likely to be a category 4, perhaps category 5, as it first makes landfall in the Keys Sunday morning and again near Fort Myers Sunday evening. Expect the strongest winds for the Tampa Bay area to arrive late Sunday night and last through Monday morning.

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Up and down the west coast of Florida expect hurricane force winds and storm surge. For SW Florida, that surge will be on the order of 10-15’+, with decreasing amounts further north.

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Hurricane Irma Draws Closer To South Florida; Widespread Impacts Ahead

On Friday afternoon, Irma is located about 380 miles SE of Miami. It is currently a strong category 4 storm with max winds of 155 mph, but some fluctuations in intensity are expected over the next day or two.

Irma is a very large storm… roughly 450 miles wide. Hurricane force winds extend out up to 60 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds extend out up to 160 miles from the center. Irma is currently moving west at 14 mph and is expected to make landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday morning before making its way north through the state. Preparations should be wrapped up today in South Florida, and no later than tomorrow afternoon for central and northern portions of the state.

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For the FOX 13 viewing area, expect tropical storm force winds to begin moving in from the south on Sunday morning. The worst of the weather will arrive Sunday night and last through Monday morning. During that time, you can expect hurricane force wind gusts (74+ mph) with winds out of the east-northeast. As the storm moves north on Monday morning, expect winds to become onshore. This will result in a storm surge of 2-4+ feet along the west-central Florida coast. Unfortunately, this will occur around high tide, resulting in a storm tide of up to 6 feet in spots. Also, expect total rainfall of 5-10″ and widespread power outages.

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Here is the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center…

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* Sebastian Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Venice
* Florida Keys

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* North of Sebastian Inlet to Ponce Inlet

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Southeastern Bahamas
* Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, and Villa Clara
* Central Bahamas
* Northwestern Bahamas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* North of Jupiter Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia County Line
* North of Bonita Beach to Anclote River
* Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas and Matanzas

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, and Las Tunas

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STORM SURGE:  The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  The water is expected to reach the following HEIGHTS ABOVE GROUND if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

SW Florida from Captiva to Cape Sable…6 to 12 ft
Jupiter Inlet to Cape Sable including the Florida Keys…5 to 10 ft
Ponce Inlet to Jupiter Inlet…3 to 6 ft
Venice to Captiva…3 to 6 ft

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS by the following amounts within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
Southeastern and central Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
Northwestern Bahamas…5 to 10 ft
Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft
Northern coast of Cuba in the warning area…5 to 10 ft

WIND:  Hurricane conditions are still occurring in portions of the southeastern Bahamas and these conditions will continue to spread westward over the central Bahamas later today.  Hurricane conditions are expected to continue within the hurricane warning area along the north coast of Cuba through Saturday. Hurricane conditions are expected in the northwestern Bahamas tonight and Saturday, and in portions of southern Florida and the Florida Keys Saturday night or early Sunday.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area in Florida by Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Saturday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Tuesday night:

Dominican Republic and Haiti…additional 1 to 4 inches.
Turks and Caicos…additional 2 to 4 inches.
Southern Bahamas and northern Cuba…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches.
Southern Cuba…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.
Jamaica…1 to 2 inches.
The upper Florida Keys into southeast Florida…10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches.
Lower Florida Keys…4 to 8 inches.
Eastern Florida northward into coastal Georgia…8 to 12 inches, isolated 16 inches.
Western Florida peninsula…4 to 8 inches, isolated 12 inches.
Much of Georgia…South Carolina…and Western North Carolina…3 to 6 inches.

SURF:  Swells generated by Irma are affecting Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and should start affecting portions of the southeast coast of the United States later today and tonight.  These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.  Please consult products from your local weather office.

 

Irma Chugs Westward; Florida’s Threat Increasing

At 5pm Thursday, Irma is still a powerful category 5 hurricane with max sustained winds of 175 mph. This evening it is closing in on the Turks & Caicos as it continues to move WNW at 16 mph. Hurricane watches are currently in effect for South Florida and the Florida Keys. Those will likely be expanded north at some point in the next 12-18 hours.

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Model trends on Thursday afternoon have shown a slight shift to the west and the official track from the National Hurricane Center has followed suit with a slight bump westward. It’s important to remember that a shift of only 25-50 miles either way will have a big on local impacts. The exact track is not etched in stone and, as of now, all of the Florida Peninsula needs to be prepared for hurricane conditions Saturday night through Monday morning as this system moves north through the state.

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Irma Sliding North Of Hispanola; Hurricane Watches Now Up For South Florida

At 11AM Thursday, Irma remains a dangerous category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 mph. It’s moving WNW at 16 mph and is located about 120 miles SE of Grand Turk Island in the Turks & Caicos. Irma is expected to continue this general WNW motion over the next couple of days before making a northward turn as it nears the state of Florida. Hurricane watches are now up for all of South Florida.

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The time of that right hand turn is critical in determining the range of impacts felt across the state. The worst of the weather will be felt on Irma’s northern and eastern sides. Areas directly in front of and east of the center of the storm can expect sustained hurricane force winds for a time. While winds on the western side of the eye will be decreasing the further west you go. It’s still too early to pinpoint the impacts for an exact location, as a shift in track of just 20-30 miles could dramatically change who sees what. As of now, the entire Florida peninsula is in the cone of uncertainty and should be preparing accordingly. Mandatory evacuations are now in effect for the Florida Keys, as well as coastal portions of Miami-Dade, Broward, Brevard, and Martin counties. Heed warnings of local authorities.

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Impacts across the northern Caribbean over the next couple of days will be quite extreme. Here is the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center…

STORM SURGE:  The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  The water is expected to reach the following HEIGHTS ABOVE GROUND if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach, including Florida Keys…5 to 10 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.  Surge related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS by the following amounts within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
Southeastern and central Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
Northwestern Bahamas…5 to 10 ft
Northern coast of the Dominican Republic…3 to 5 ft
Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft
Northern coast of Cuba in the warning area…5 to 10 ft

Water levels around Puerto Rico should subside today.

WIND:  Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic and Haiti today. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands later today with tropical storm conditions expected within the next several hours.  These conditions will spread into the central Bahamas by tonight or early Friday.

Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area in Cuba by Friday.  Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin within the warning area in Cuba tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected in the northwestern Bahamas Friday night and Saturday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Saturday evening:

Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands… additional 2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches
Much of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Andros Island and Bimini, Bahamas…12 to 16 inches, isolated 25 inches
Northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
Southern Dominican Republic and southern Haiti…2 to 5 inches
Eastern and central Cuba…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
Southeast Florida and the upper Florida Keys…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Lower Florida Keys…2 to 5 inches

In all areas this rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

SURF:  Swells generated by Irma are affecting the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and should start affecting portions of the southeast coast of the United States later today and tonight.  These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
* Florida Keys

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti
* Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
* Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
* Central Bahamas
* Northwestern Bahamas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the southern border with Haiti
* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince
* Cuba provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara.

 

 

Category 5 Irma Brings Destructive Winds and Storm Surge to the Northeast Caribbean; Approaches Florida This Weekend

Irma is a beast. After raking the Northern Leeward Islands it slams the British and U.S. Virgin Islands Wednesday afternoon. According to the NHC an unofficial gust of 111 mph was reported on Culebra. The massive category 5 hurricane passes near Puerto Rico early Wednesday evening. The core of hurricane force winds will just skirt the northern part of the island. As of 5 PM it maintains category 5 strength with 185 mph winds as it moves west-northwest at 15 mph. What’s incredible is Irma maintains 185 mph winds for 24 hours+. With the exception of Haiyan in the western Pacific, it is the only Atlantic and Pacific tropical cyclone to stay this strong for this long (according to Eric Blake of NOAA and Dr. Klotzback of Colorado State University). Wave heights build to 30-40 feet just north of the Virgin Islands Wednesday evening. Storm surge batters the eastern Caribbean with a peak surge of 7-11 feet over the Virgin Islands. Impressive waves plow through the Turks and Caicos and the Southeast Bahamas by Friday. A destructive surge of 15-20 feet is possible.

The only thing to really weaken Irma or disrupt it some would be interaction with Hispaniola or Cuba. Even then, the storm would likely still be a dangerous high end major hurricane before possible catastrophic impacts in south and east Florida Sunday and Monday. While the center line from the NHC a little further east at 5 PM, the track error 4 and 5 days out remains the same. 4 and 5 day error is 175 miles to 225 miles respectively. Beyond Florida, it is increasingly likely that coastal Georgia and South Carolina will see impacts too. Impacts are pending on when Irma makes the turn north. At this point, it will be on late Saturday. A slower turn north would mean more impacts a bit further west across the Sunshine State.

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Here’s a glance at some of the model consistency Wednesday afternoon. Notice the cluster of models near southeast and east Florida. This track is northward towards southeast Georgia and South Carolina Monday afternoon. Both the GFS and especially the Euro bring the core of major hurricane force winds near or just over southeast Florida Sunday. A wobble west or east, would make all the difference in widespread destruction or tropical storm winds. Keep in mind as large is Irma is, the structure may not be as symmetrical this weekend. As of 5 PM hurricane force winds extend out 50 miles from the center. The strongest winds are in the surrounding eye wall. Tropical storm force winds extend out up to 185 miles from the center.

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Ridiculous wave heights in the Caribbean move on to Florida by late this weekend. The worst surge, is highly dependent on the track. Here is an early wave height estimate in southeast Florida by Sunday afternoon from Wave Watch III model. Those shades of pink are 25-40 foot waves. Please heed any evacuations and warnings. Stay informed as we gain more model confidence in the days ahead.

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Also of note, both Jose in the east central Atlantic and Katia in the southern Gulf become a hurricane at 5 PM. Jose could clip the Leeward Islands, but should generally stay over the open Atlantic over the next 5-6 days+. Katia will run into mountainous east Mexico this weekend. It will stay well south of Texas.

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Category 5 Irma Slams the Northeast Caribbean; Models Shift East

Irma is tied for the second strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin. It is just behind Hurricane Allen, which peaked at 190 mph winds. The Northern Leeward Islands took a direct hit Wednesday morning. Relentless category 5 Irma slams Barbuda, Saint Martin, and Anguila early Wednesday with 185 mph. A NOAA National Ocean Service on the island of Barbuda recorded a gust of 155 mph before it was knocked out. Images from these islands show catastrophic wind damage. Next in the path of Irma are the U.S. and British Virgin Islands Wednesday afternoon followed a close call with Puerto Rico Wednesday night. The storm is massive, its about 500 miles wide, (estimated on GOES 16 enhanced satellite imagery) and impacts are felt well from the center of circulation. Tremendous rainfall and pounding storm surge will batter the northern portions of these islands. 8-12 inches of rain, with isolated amounts up to 20 inches is likely from the Northern Leeward Islands, Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. A catastrophic storm surge of 7-11 feet is expected in these islands too (while north Puerto Rico will see a 4-6 foot surge). Wave heights build to a remarkable 40 feet+ as of late morning Wednesday. Storm surge will be even worse for Turks and Caicos and the Southeast Bahamas as Irma gains latitude later this work week. The concern for Florida and the Southeast U.S. is that these waves lift northward this weekend and early next week. Due to the size and massive flow around Irma, storm surge will be a major issue on the north and east side of the storm. The Keys will get a double whammy as Irma approaches Saturday and then lifts north.

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As of 11 AM max sustained winds are at 185 mph and pressure climbs some to 918 mb. Irma now moves WNW at 16 mph under the perimeter of the Bermuda High. The extent of hurricane force winds will fluctuate some as the storm contracts and goes through eye wall replacement cycles. As of 11 AM hurricane force winds extend out 50 miles from the center. The shield of tropical storm force winds is much larger; these go out 185 miles. Irma will remain a very dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane over the next 4 or 5 days. Water temperatures are warm and wind shear remains low for at least the next 3 to 4 days. There is a noticeable east shift in the 11 AM advisory. This is in line with an eastward trend in computer models. South/southeast Florida is still very much on track for possible major hurricane force winds, horrible storm surge, spin up tornadoes and heavy rain by early Sunday. This advisory shows the anticipated turn north further east and a bit quicker. The entire state of Florida up through the Carolinas need to stay on high alert for any forecast changes. While the track has shifted east, it is still pretty likely Irma will make landfall in the U.S..

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06Z computer models clearly show an east shift under the influence of a weakness in the Atlantic ridge. While many models keep the center of Irma east of the state, numerous ensemble models still bring this dangerous hurricane up through south and southeast Florida Sunday. If this trend continues, South Carolina could see more impacts by Monday. This trend is a favorable one for the Tampa Bay area. If this holds, storm surge will be a non issue, but heavy rain and tropical storm force winds will still be felt across the area, mainly Sunday and early Monday. Remember the 5 day cone error is more than 200 miles. Things can change. Stay prepared and stay informed.

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Caribbean and Florida on High Alert As Category 5 Irma Moves West

Irma is among the strongest hurricanes on record in the entire Atlantic Basin. Only 5 other hurricanes, including Wilma, have seen winds over 184 mph. It became the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning. As of 5 PM the powerhouse storm maintains intensity as a strong category 5 with max sustained winds of 185 mph. Pressure is down to 926 mb as it barrels towards the northern Leeward Islands as it moves west at 15 mph. The wind field of the massive hurricane (more than 400 miles across) continues to grow in size. While hurricane force winds still extend out 60 miles from the center, tropical storm force winds now extend out 170 miles.

The northern Leeward Antilles will experience a direct hit Tuesday night and early Wednesday. Below is composite radar from BarbadosWeather.org. Notice a defined eye and impressive eye wall. Hurricane Hunters have been out there basically around the clock since Tuesday morning. The storm may weaken a little Tuesday night during a pending eye wall replacement cycle. Up next are the British and U.S. Virgin Islands followed by a close call for Puerto Rico late Wednesday into Thursday. The strongest damaging winds are east of the center of circulation. As Irma moves northwest the flow around the storm will bring a significant storm surge to the British and Virgin Islands and the northern coast of Puerto Rico. Storm surge will be even higher for Turks and Caicos and the southeast Bahamas. Up to a 15-20 foot surge is possible in these areas. Hispaniola and Cuba may disrupt the very dangerous hurricane and lead to some weakening. A category 4 hurricane takes aim at the Florida Keys and South Florida late Saturday and Sunday. Irma will likely be the strongest hurricane to strike these areas since Andrew in 1992. The 5 PM track from the National Hurricane Center has not changed much since early Tuesday.

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All eyes are on Florida and the timing of a turn north early the weekend. Unfortunately, there are still some discrepancies in our two most reliable models. The 12Z GFS is still further east and a bit quicker. The 12Z European model is slower to turn north and is further west. Both models bring an intense major hurricane northward through the state through Monday. It is still too early to talk specific rainfall, wind, storm surge etc as Irma is still 5 days out from any impacts. That 5 day error is 225 miles. There is still a possibility the long-range track shifts further east or west.

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Florida is likely to see major hurricane impacts this weekend and Monday. The question remains, if it heads further west, due north over the state, or further east. As a trough lifts out of the Northeast later this week the Bermuda High shifts east. That high then builds back in across the Atlantic. At the same time an upper level disturbance moves through the south central U.S.. Irma will lift north due to a weakness between these two features. The strength of both of those features is still up in the air.  Stay tuned and be prepared.

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Dangerous Category 5 Irma Closes In On the Caribbean; Eyes Florida This Weekend

As of 11 AM Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico with 180 mph winds (according to the NHC). Hurricane Hunters discovered the very dangerous hurricane ramped up to impressive strong category 5 strength at 8 AM. The strongest winds are in the outer eye wall north and east of its center. Irma is the strongest category 5 storm since Felix in 2007. It is a monster of a storm. The structure is of a textbook annular hurricane with a wall of intense convection surrounding a solid eye. It has completed shut out any surrounding dry air. This is bad news for the islands in its path as nothing holds Irma back from strengthening, or at least maintaining intensity. It will remain a very dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane for the next several days. Irma is enormous and getting bigger. The catastrophic major hurricane force wind field grows to 60 miles from its center. Tropical storm force winds extend 160 miles from the center.

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As of 11 AM max sustained winds are up to 180 mph and it heads west at 14 mph. At this pace tropical storm force winds reach the northern Lesser Antilles by early Tuesday evening with major hurricane force winds late tonight and overnight. Irma will plow through the U.S and British Virgin Islands early Wednesday as a category 5 hurricane. Next, enormous Irma will pass north of Puerto Rico, but the wind field is large enough for them to experience at least high end tropical storm force winds. Rainfall totals could peak up to a foot and a half across the northern Leeward Islands. The British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and northeast Puerto Rico could see 8 to 12 inches. Storm surge on the northern side of these islands will also be extreme, especially for the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.  A storm surge of 7-11 feet is possible for the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, except St. Croix. The northern coast of Puerto Rico will see a storm surge of 3 to 5 feet. The southern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix will see a 1 to 2 foot storm surge. Thursday Irma could get disrupted by Hispaniola and by Friday it is near Turks and Caicos. The south Bahamas count experience a major hurricane Friday and early Saturday. South Florida and the Florida Keys are under the gun for major hurricane conditions by late Saturday and early Sunday. Irma is large enough to affect Cuba too. The mountainous island could also disrupt the storm and weaken it some.

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All eyes are on when Irma makes its northern turn, which could be a sharp one. As of Tuesday morning, models anticipate the northern turn at some point Saturday. The timing is key for Florida. It looks increasingly likely that Irma makes landfall in South Florida. The complicated upper level pattern could change in the upcoming days. This is the flow that steers Irma. As of early Tuesday the Bermuda will likely steer the powerhouse storm over the next  7 days. A strong trough sits over the east coast mid to late week.  It looks to lift out and open the door for the Atlantic Ridge to build back in. This guides Irma  northward near, or directly over the Sunshine State. While model consensus is not in Florida’s favor, a few more models are shifting slightly further east. Keep in mind the 4 and 5 day track record is 175 miles and 225 miles, respectively. If you haven’t done so already, make preparations for a possible major hurricane if you live in South Florida. It still too early to talk specific wind, rain and, storm surge impacts. We should have a better idea by Thursday. Hurricane Hunters are out there around the cloud. Their data will help computer models gain clarity on the long-range track. Additional upper air soundings across the central U.S. will also help models get a handle too.

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Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Jose forms at 11 AM in the central Atlantic. It is the 10th named storm of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. This is more than a month ahead of schedule. On average, the 10th named storm of the Atlantic season forms on October 19th. It will likely become a hurricane well east of the Lesser Antilles Thursday or Friday.

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Hurricane Irma Strengthens; Caribbean & Possible U.S. Impacts Increasing

Hurricane Hunter information is essential to fine tuning the future intensity of Irma later this week/this weekend. In Monday morning’s P3 mission the data shows Irma gains strength as it moves west-southwest at 14 mph.  At this pace it will move over, or just north of portions of the northern Leeward Islands early Wednesday. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy . Pressure steadily drops Monday morning as the major hurricane intensifies. As of 11 AM pressure is down to 944 mb and winds are at 120 mph. As Irma continues to strengthen over a favorable environment its wind field expands in size too. The core of major hurricane force winds extend of 35 miles from its center. The tropical storm wind field now expands 140 miles from the center.

The strong Bermuda high guides Irma west late Monday and Tuesday. If Irma doesn’t gain latitude soon it will track further south and west down the road. The NHC and computer models have trended significantly further south and west since this weekend. Time has slowed a little too. That puts portions of Hispaniola. Cuba, The Bahamas, and eventually Florida in the cone of error. The worst of the storm could pass just north of Puerto, but close by Wednesday and Thursday. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Guadeloupe, the British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.  Land interaction, especially with mountainous Cuba and Hispaniola, could disrupt the growing, major hurricane. Keep in mind there a large track error on Day 4 and 5. This is 175 miles on day 4 and 225 miles in day 5. Things can and will change in the coming days. Now is the time be not panic, but stay informed and be prepared.

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Here’s a look at a significant shift west in early Monday computer models. If this trend continues, South Florida needs to prepare for possible major hurricane conditions Sunday and Monday. Notice the sharp track northward near and eventually over the Sunshine State. While there will be a sharp trough over the East coast, it now appears it may lift out and possibly miss Irma. Instead of the storm heading up possibly out the sea, high pressure may build back in and guide Irma into Florida or somewhere on the Southeast coast. This is a complex upper level setup and small changes will make a big difference in the track. The GFS has jumped on the furthest westward shift. The 06Z has the large major hurricane riding the spine of the Sunshine State. The Euro is west too with a path near southeast Florida and then up into the Carolinas. Stay tuned.

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Also of note is a tropical wave on the heels of Irma. It now has a 70% chance of developing over the next 5 days. An area of low pressure is worth watching in the southern Gulf of Mexico. While there is a 40% chance of development the next 5 days, it looks to stay south of flooded coastal Texas.

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