Hurricane Irma Moves Through the Atlantic – Threat to Leewards
Hurricane Irma has been slowly moving through the Atlantic Ocean this past week, gaining strength along the way. It is a category 3, major hurricane with 120 mph winds and gusts to 150 mph. The storm is located 560 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving to the west at 14 mph. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, Sint Maarten, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, and St. Kitts. A Hurricane Watch continues for Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. A Tropical Storm Watch has been posted for Dominica.
The satellite presentation of Irma has improved markedly over the past 24 hours, with the eye becoming larger and much more distinct. Irma is expected to remain within a very favorable environment for strengthening during the next several days and additional intensification appears likely. The National Hurricane Center forecast brings the hurricane to category 4 strength within the next 24 hours, and then maintains Irma as a powerful hurricane during the next 5 days, assuming that the core of the cyclone does not move over any of the Greater Antilles.
Key messages from the National Hurricane Center:
1. Irma is expected to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands as a dangerous major hurricane, accompanied by life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts, along with rough surf and rip currents. Hurricane warnings have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands. Preparations should be rushed to completion, as tropical-storm force winds are expected to first arrive in the hurricane warning area by late Tuesday.
2. Irma could directly affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a dangerous major hurricane later this week. Hurricane watches have been issued for these areas, and tropical-
storm-force winds could arrive in these areas by early Wednesday.
3. Irma could directly affect Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba as a dangerous major hurricane later this week. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of Irma and listen to advice given by officials.
4. There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend. In addition, rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern U.S. coast by later this week. Otherwise, it is still too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental United States. However, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place, as we are now near the peak of the season.
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels