It’s all still a crapshoot at this point, but Hurricane Irma’s approach to the continental United States is at last coming into focus.
As of the 11:00 a.m. AST advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida, the center of Irma was located approximately 1,220 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
In other words it’s still in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean … and still capable of striking virtually anywhere (or nowhere) along the continental coastline.
Irma is moving west at approximately 15 miles per hour, but is projected to “turn toward the west-southwest at a slightly slower rate of speed during the next two days.”
After it makes this dip, though, most models have the system tracking back to the west – and then to the northwest – as it arrives in the Caribbean.
Take a look at the storm’s latest five-day forecast …
(Click to view)
And here is its latest projected forecast track …
(Click to view)
Irma is currently a category two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. It’s also a compact storm, with hurricane force winds extending outward only 25 miles from its center.
Over the next five days the storm is projected to expand and strengthen, though – possibly into a category four monster like Hurricane Harvey.
That storm came completely out of nowhere last month to hammer Texas with unprecedented rainfall and catastrophic flooding.
Harvey is likely to be the costliest natural disaster in American history – not because of the impact of its landfall, but because the system got stuck in a holding pattern over southeastern Texas for several days after coming ashore.
We will obviously continue to keep a close eye on Irma as it progresses across the Atlantic …
For now the only good news to report is that it doesn’t seem likely to head toward Texas, which can ill afford to sustain any additional damage.
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