On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, now estimated to be the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, attention is turning to the next threat, Hurricane Irma.
Irma, which weakened slightly overnight Friday – down to Category 2 strength with sustained winds of 110 mph – is marching westward across the Atlantic Ocean. Irma’s center of circulation is still more than 2,000 miles away from the East Coast, but signs continue for future concern.
Irma, which rapidly intensified to a Category 3 storm on Thursday, is already the longest-duration storm at hurricane strength of the 2017 Atlantic season. While it fluctuated back down to Category 2 status overnight Friday, it is expected to gain power as it moves west over warmer waters, possibly intensifying to a Category 4 storm later this week. Such fluctuations in strength are normal for storms of such duration.
Tracking forecasts for tropical systems are full of uncertainties beyond five days, and exact landfall is nearly impossible to predict even hours out, but global models are trying to converge on the idea that a strong high-pressure system located over the central Atlantic will remain entrenched through this week, perfectly placed to allow Irma to stay over warm waters and head ever closer to the U.S. shoreline.
It is worth mentioning that these model solutions are not official forecasts. No one (and no model) can tell us exactly where Irma will go. However, it is safe to say that the situation has become slightly more concerning for East Coast residents.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Greg Porter