Issued 9:30pm Sunday, September 10th. Hurricane Irma is now making landfall over the Florida Keys as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds to 130mph! Above image – rainbow satellite via RAAMB / CIRA
Hurricane Irma to start Sunday (AEST) was situated over the North Coast of Cuba as a Category 3 system after being downgraded due to the system interacting with land for a considerable amount of time. Irma then re-entered the extremely warm waters (30-33ºc) between the Florida Keys and Cuba which allowed her to re-intensify into a Category 4 system. Irma through this process is now making landfall over the Florida Keys as Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130mph (210km/h) and much higher wind gusts. She is also posing a LIFE THREATENING storm surge threat across the Florida Keys. Catastrophic, life threatening damage is highly likely across the region.
After making landfall over Florida Keys, the system is expected to then continue North-West towards the Florida Coast. Irma is expected to officially make landfall between Tampa Bay and Sarasota at this stage, as a low end Category 3 system or high end Category 2 system. Her final strength will be heavily dependant on how much she interacts with the Coastline as she will weaken the entire time she moves up the Coast due to land interaction. A LIFE THREATENING storm surge of 3-5m above ground level is expected over South-West Florida (and through the Florida Keys) along with the entire Florida West Coast due to Irma. This coupled with the winds will make for a very violent Sunday (local time) and early Monday. Thankfully the main winds won’t extend far from the core of the system – limiting the high end damage to Coastal and near-Coastal areas.