StormTeam10: Irma strongest hurricane in 12 years
Earlier on Tuesday, Hurricane Irma's sustained winds increased to an astounding 185mph making this the strongest hurricane this season. But this also makes it one of the strongest hurricanes ever in the Atlantic Basin. According to the National Hurricane Center only 5 Atlantic storms have measured top sustained wind speeds of 185mph or higher. They are listed below, courtesy of "HURDAT":
This is also the strongest hurricane since Wilma in 2005...it shows a terrifying satellite appearance right now with a well defined eye, measuring more than 35 miles across, roughly the width of Rhode Island!
Hurricane warnings are posted for all of the islands across the northern Leeward chain as well as the British & US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti & the Dominican Republic. The storm will move steadily across the northern edge of these islands and it poses the greatest strom surge threat to the Turks & Caicos Islands in the southeastern Bahamas toward Thursday & Friday where a potential storm surge COULD reach 15-20 feet!
By this weekend, official forecasts place the storm near the Florida Keys as a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane. Mandatory evacuations from the Keys begins Wednesday...remember these islands are only a few feet above sea level so a storm surge of 10-15 feet or more will place ALL of the Florida Keys under several feet of water...evacuations are necessary and SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED!!
Where the storm goes from there is still uncertain and I urge that future forecasts can shift, somewhat dramatically. Most medium to long range models show the storm turning north toward the Florida mainland then progressing into the southeastern U.S....possibly making a second landfall along the South Carolina coast as a hurricane OR weakening to a tropical storm as it passes over the Florida Peninsula...too early to be certain.
The forecasts of an active hurricane season are bearing fruit...and we are right about at the statistical height of the season with several months ahead of us. We are tracking 2 other systems in the Atlantic Basin as well, Jose COULD become a major hurricane in the next few days and a new depression in western Gulf of Mexico which may become "Katia":
Stay tuned to StormTeam10 for updates on Irma, Jose and the rest of the storms for this hurricane season.
Thanks for reading...Mark