Hurricane Irma

Right now, she’s a spectacular storm and still over warm water without any real deterrences to additional development.  Sustained winds are above 150mph with windspeeds recorded earlier today at +175mph near the surface below the eye wall.

This storm will likely enter the Eastern Gulf of Mexico by the weekend; but the current tracking models show the storm crossing the heart of the Caribbean with plenty of likelihood for weakening as the storm crosses many many islands.  My “armchair” analysis says this will be a Florida storm – that Irma will come into the Gulf and curl eastward across the Florida peninsula early Saturday.

Will this be another Andrew for the people of Florida?  I kinda don’t think so.  Crossing all the dry land as she traverses the Caribbean, is going to impact both the strength and steerage of Irma.  I look for landfall, and significant damage, along the SW coast of Florida; particularly the Ft Myers and Sanibel Island coast.  Tampa will feel some strong winds and rain.  If Irma doesn’t hook eastward pretty quickly, then Tampa and Orlando will feel a strong hit.

It’s been a while since they had a really severe storm come ashore South of Tampa.  They experience strong tropical storms there nearly every year; but Irma is starting to look like a superstorm.  Not unlike Andrew.  If she remains above cat4 crossing the Caribbean, she’s going to cause immeasurable damage to the Leewards, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and likely Cuba.  If she does endure that trip across the Caribbean as a cat4 storm, then the warm water of the SE Gulf of Mexico will easily push her back to cat5 before she slams ashore around Ft Myers.

She’s a beautiful storm, though.  The sat images are stunning and the sonde reports/doppler images are incredible.  The weather buoys in that vicinity are reporting 60ft wave heights and gusts to nearly 180mph.