The Tropical Storm known as Irma gained strength on Wednesday and is forecast to become a hurricane as early as today or Friday. The storm, if recategorized, would become the fourth hurricane of a violent, record-breaking season.
Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) said in their latest advisory that Irma’s sustained winds had reached 60 mph as the system churns west at 15 mph.
Given the massive devastation left from Hurricane Harvey, Floridians are on high alert for newly forming disturbances. But experts agree that is too early to tell what – if any – impact Irma may have to Florida or the East Coast.
The system has the potential to continue gaining significant strength as it moves across the warmer than normal Atlantic waters, and weak wind shear.
Forecasters say Irma is moving along the lower edge of a high pressure system that’s helping direct it. Thanks in part to that pressure system, Irma is expected to slow and begin turning toward the southwest over the next three days. But following that, the projection models differ on which path the storm will take.
Historically, the track of Irma will likely be extraordinarily close to coordinates in the tropical Atlantic Ocean that have proved a turning point for threats to the outer islands and the U.S. coastline.
Hurricane forecasters want to stress that predictions and potential paths made this far out (over seven days) can be completely unreliable. It is not yet known whether a low pressure force could take the storm in another direction.
This hurricane season has become record-breaking, since the Franklin on August 10. The Category 1 storm made landfall in Mexico August 11. August 14 saw Gert upgraded, but staying offshore. And last week, Hurricane Harvey made an historically tragic showing in Texas, stalling over Houston and being credited with at least 20 deaths.
With rescue efforts still underway from Harvey, and many South Florida local and regional response teams serving the victims in its path of destruction and colossal rainfall, Floridians are urged to stay informed of weather conditions.
As with every storm season, it is wise to have an emergency plan in place along with an evacuation plan and provisions for special needs. Consider teaming up with a neighbor, friend, or family member to help reinforce your plans and keep a check on each other should a disaster come near.
Finalize your plans now for a safer storm season.