Irma could make South Florida landfall sooner than expected

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Staff reports

The National Hurricane Center’s 4 a.m. CST update shows the center of Hurricane Irma now moving as predicted toward the west-northwest — at a rate of 16 mph.

However, Forecaster Ryan Maue noted an “important change” in the storm’s 96-hour projected path, which has been shifted away from Cuba.

According to Maue, the latest computer models forecast a trend further east in the storm’s path with a “much faster” impact on South Florida, potentially a Category 5 Irma off Miami by early Sunday.

“The official forecast has also been shifted eastward, but out of respect for the previous forecast and the possibility the guidance may shift back to the west, it lies to the left of the bulk of the guidance,” stated the NHC’s 4 a.m. CST update.

According to NHC the storm’s forecast after 72 hours “has become more uncertain” with computer models now predicting Irma may turn northward between 78W-80W, moving near or over the Florida east coast or the northwestern Bahamas.

Meteorologist Jim Cantore this morning noted the shift in guidance. “What that should signal is a call for preps in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, if not already,” he said.

Meanwhile despite passing over the small island of Barbuda overnight, Irma continues to show signs of strengthening. The central minimum pressure dropped further from 916 to 914 mb.

There was little impact to Irma when the storm passed over the small island of Barbuda overnight, and the storm remains a Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph winds per the NHC update.

“On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands this morning, move near or over portions of the northern Virgin Islands later today, and pass
near or just north of Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight,” stated the update.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.