Issued Tuesday night, September 5th 2017. Hurricane Irma has rapidly intensified in the past 6 hours into a Category 5 monster, making it the strongest Atlantic system in more than a decade and it has many places on high alert! Above image – Satellite imagery via NOAA


Irma developed into a Tropical Storm more than a week ago off the Coast of Africa. Since then, Irma has undergone fluctuations of rapid intensified and steadying periods as its tracked at a constant pace and direction towards the West and towards the Bahamas / Antilles Islands. The fluctuations in intensity have been due to water temperatures being only marginally favourable, whilst atmospheric conditions have been exceptionally ideal, its been a matter of which one takes the reins at any given point in time.

Forecast track map via the National Hurricane Center as of Tuesday night AEST

Forecast track map via the National Hurricane Center as of Tuesday night AEST

 

 

Right now, Irma is East of the Leeward Antilles with a landfall expected over the next 24hrs across the Northern Islands of the Leeward Antilles and then a near impact or direct impact over Puerto Rico – most likely as a Category 5. Models have been fluctuating in tracks due to so much uncertainty with ridging patterns, however at this stage Irma is expected to track North of the Dominican Republic and through the Bahamas towards Cuba. Its at this point that a breakdown in the ridge over the Atlantic is expected, and this will cause Irma to rapidly change direction towards the North leading to 1 of 4 scenarios…. 1. She turns North of misses the United States. 2. She turns North and moves East of Florida, with a landfall over the Carolina’s. 3. A direct landfall over Florida with catastrophic impacts. 4. Moves West of Florida into the Gulf and makes landfall over the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Regardless… Florida WILL be impacted to a degree – whether its storm force winds or major hurricane force winds, some sort of impact is likely. 

More than 250mm is also expected to fall over the path of Irma leading to widespread flash flooding. Isolated falls of more than 400-500mm are also possible, but once again these will be highly dependant on the track. 

Despite all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure… Irma is one very nasty and very dangerous system, and Irma will strike someone – there are too many islands and too much scattered land for nobody to be impact. Our thoughts go out to those in Irma’s path.

Forecast 10 day rainfall via WindyTV for Irma. Purple is over 500mm, pink over 250mm, orange / pink over 100mm.

Forecast 10 day rainfall via WindyTV for Irma. Purple is over 500mm, pink over 250mm, orange / pink over 100mm.