Hurricane Irma: What Has Changed
The ECMWF model (the Euro) has been doing the best job among the various models so we will concentrate on it here. It has been consistently telling us that the storm would take a more western track than the other modeling projected and it appears that this is going to be the case. What this means is that the center of the hurricane is likely to take a track up along or just inside the WEST coast of Florida. Also, the timing has slowed down a bit. The weather is already deteriorating in the Florida Keys with the storm center still near the coast of Cuba. It will continue to do so. The Keys are going to take a MAJOR hit from this storm and it is not safe to be there. With the slower timing, it looks like this will be a 2-day event for the state of Florida, with the worst conditions reaching southernmost Florida Sunday morning, but not easing in northern Florida until late Monday. The southwestern and southern coast of Florida will take the strongest storm surge, however the surge will be life-threatening in all of the warned areas, including eastern Florida. It looks like the eye may not make landfall until Sunday afternoon between Sarasota and Port Charlotte. From there the ECMWF model tracks the center near or just east of Tampa, then into northern Florida Monday afternoon and southwestern Georgia Monday evening. Although not as severe as Florida, Georgia and parts of Alabama will feel significant impacts from this storm.
Irma weakened overnight due to interaction with the northern coast of Cuba. Maximum sustained wind is now 130 mph. However, the storm is likely to strengthen tonight once the center gets back over very warm, open water in the Florida Straits.
Below is the latest ECMWF surface and wind gust forecasts. Most of Florida is likely to experience hurricane force wind gusts with this storm. Areas where it makes landfall (the southwest coast) may experience wind gusts of 120 mph-140 mph Sunday.
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2 PM Sunday:
8 PM Sunday: