Latest on Irma
Irma, already a strong category five hurricane, is expected to strike the British Virgin Islands Tuesday evening, skirt Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon, and continue on a track very likely to heavily impact south Florida this weekend as a major Hurricane. Florida Keys officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents and visitors, southern Florida towns and cities may not be far behind.
“If ever there was a storm to take seriously in the Keys, this is it,” said Martin Senterfitt, the emergency management director for Monroe County, which covers the Florida Keys, a popular tourist destination. “The sooner people leave, the better.”
Visitors are to begin evacuating the Keys Wednesday morning and residents are ordered to leave beginning at 7 pm Wednesday.
This post is now outdated, please follow our latest Irma coverage HERE.
Hurricane Irma’s Current Position and Track
2300 AST/EDT (0300 UTC) Update from National Weather Service
- Location: 17.4 N, 61.1 W
- Strength: 185 mph max sustained winds (Very Strong Category 5)
- Movement: W (285 deg.) at 15 mph
- Pressure: 916 mb and steady
*next update at 2 am EDT – check our Irma update page for new information
The latest satellite imagery shows the clearly defined eyewall and strong outflow expected from a storm of this intensity.
Irma is a very strong category five storm but is expected to weaken to a category four hurricane with 140 mph winds over the next 5 days as it skirts Puerto Rico and Cuba before landfall in Florida.
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).
Computer Models for Hurricane Irma
Computer models show a slight move eastward for Irma since the last update. Late cycle model consensus from the 2 pm EDT run indicate a Southeast Florida landfall while early cycle models from the 8 pm run show the storm just barely missing West Palm Beach. The NWS is thinking the storm will hit the southwest part of Florida so it appears that Irma has set her sights on the sunshine state, but we don’t know which beach she’s planning to visit first.
Late cycle models are more complex, take in more data and offer more precision, but take much longer to run. This offers better predictions, but 6 hours later.
Early cycle models complete in less than 30 minutes offering new information to forecasters but using less complicated models with less information. They may not be as exact, but they are more timely.
Comparing the early cycle models to the NWS forecast (top of page) it appears that the National Weather Service is giving serious consideration to the SHIP (statistical hurricane intensity prediction scheme) model as both the reliable GFS (labeled AEMI) and HWF (HWFI) have a more easterly track impacting Florida. They also don’t show a landfall in Cuba. (which now the NWS had abandoned)
When looking at the wind strength models, it looks like NWS is closely following SHIP (the yellow line) again.
A concern is that SHIP missed the 185 mph strengthening today and didn’t predict the track as well as GFS. The GFS consensus wind model keeps Irma at 160 kts (185 mph) or higher until Sunday.
Model consensus continues to point to an increasingly likely impact to Florida and the Florida Keys from Hurricane Irma. Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency to help the state prepare for what could be a major hurricane when it reaches the sunshine state.
Today, Governor Rick Scott issued Executive Order 17-235 declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties within the State of Florida in response to Hurricane Irma – a major Category 4 storm approaching Florida. By declaring a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, Governor Scott is ensuring that local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm and are not hindered, delayed or prevented from taking all necessary actions to keep communities safe.
If the storm takes the current model’s predicted course, straight up the middle of the Florida peninsula, damage could be catastrophic for the state. The storm could devastate communities from the Keys to the panhandle in a matter of just over 24 hours. Floridians should start preparing now to either shelter-in-place or evacuate. Don’t wait until the last minute and please listen to local authorities for instructions.
Watches and Warnings
Areas under Hurricane Warning
* Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
* Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
* Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
* British Virgin Islands
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with
Areas under Hurricane Watch
* Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le
Mole St. Nicholas
* Turks and Caicos Islands
* Southeastern Bahamas
* Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province
Areas under Tropical Storm Warning
* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the
southern border with Haiti
Areas under Tropical Storm Watch
* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince
What to Expect from Hurricane Irma
STORM SURGE: 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.
- Northern Leeward Islands…7 to 11 ft
- Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
- Southeastern Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
- Northern coast of the Dominican Republic…3 to 5 ft
- Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft
The combination of a life-threatening 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…
- British and U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix…7 to 11 ft
- Northern coast of Puerto Rico…3 to 5 ft
- Southern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix…1 to 2 ft
The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas ofonshore 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. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office.
WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area in the Leeward Islands tonight, with tropical storm conditions beginning within a couple of hours. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions beginning tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area
in the Dominican Republic early Thursday, with tropical storm conditions beginning Wednesday night.
Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area in Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas by early Thursday.
RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Thursday:
- Northern Leeward Islands…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
- Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands
except St. Croix…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
- Southwest Puerto Rico, the southern Leeward Islands, and
St. Croix…2 to 4 inches
Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations Wednesday through Saturday:
- Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20
- Northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti…4 to 10 inches,
isolated 15 inches
- Southwest Haiti…1 to 4 inches
These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
SURF: Swells generated by Irma will affect the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the northern coast of the Dominican Republic during the next several days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.
When to Expect Hurricane Irma and Where
NOW 06/0300Z 17.4N 61.1W 160 KT 185 MPH
12H 06/1200Z 18.1N 63.1W 155 KT 180 MPH – St. Martin, Anguilla
24H 07/0000Z 19.1N 65.9W 150 KT 175 MPH – 50 miles North of Puerto Rico
36H 07/1200Z 20.1N 68.5W 145 KT 165 MPH – Northwest of the Domincan Republic
48H 08/0000Z 21.0N 71.2W 140 KT 160 MPH – 40 miles southeast of Turks and Caicos
72H 09/0000Z 22.0N 76.2W 135 KT 155 MPH – 50 miles northeast of Cuba
96H 10/0000Z 23.2N 79.5W 125 KT 145 MPH – 40 miles north of Cuba (looks like Cuba landfall less likely)
120H 11/0000Z 25.0N 81.5W 120 KT 140 MPH – 20 miles southwest of Everglades National Park, Florida