While Major Category 5 Hurricane Irma continues to lash the Lesser Antilles with nearly unimaginable ferocity, its future is still not certain. A trough of low pressure moving through the eastern United States is expected to influence the eventual track Irma will take, but more questions than answers exist on the strength and impact of such influence. Overnight forecast guidance from global computer models have shifted the potential storm track further east, with many suggesting a landfall on the US East Coast further north and east of Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) updated their forecast track at 11am today to show the center of the storm grazing by the Florida east coast as it continues up the southeast coast.
It is important to point out that Irma is a large and dangerous storm; even if the center of the storm were to remain off-shore, significant damage and flooding could occur even inland. It is possible for the storm to remain off the Florida east coast but still bring damaging conditions to Florida’s west coast, and obviously all points in between.
Efforts to protect life and property should continue in the Sunshine State should the storm track more west than currently forecast. However, residents along the entire United States East Coast, from Georgia to New York, should continue to have a Hurricane Action Plan ready should it become necessary to act on it over time.
As of 11am, Major Category 5 Hurricane Irma has maximum sustained winds of 185mph; it was located at 18.2N 64.0W, about 65 miles east-south-east of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
A slew of hurricane and tropical storm advisories are in in effect due to the storm. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* 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 Haiti
* Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
* Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province
* Central Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the southern border with Haiti
* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince