Hurricane Irma is now a powerful Category 5 hurricane with 185 mph 296 km/h 161 knots hurricane. It has gusts of 235 mph 376 km/h 204 knots. It has a central pressure of 916 millibars. This is a very dangerous hurricane. Here is an infrared satellite up close of Irma.
Very impressive and scary I will say. Here is a wind radii map of Irma.
Hurricane force winds extend up to 50 miles 80 km/h 44 nautical miles. Tropical Storm force winds extend up to 175 miles 280 km/h 152 nautical miles. It is a fairly large hurricane. Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts Nevis are experiencing tropical storm force winds. They could get hurricane force winds later tonight. It is going to be a very long night for them. If Irma makes landfall at its current strength, it would be one of the strongest tropical cyclones to make landfall in terms of wind. Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts Nevis could see winds of 180 mph 288 km/h 157 knots with gusts as high as 270 mph 432 km/h 235 knots! The winds are enough to flatten buildings! There is also deadly storm surge and high waves battering the island. It is going to be really rough for them. Let’s hope they are prepared.
The latest Doppler radar shows that there is light rain right now. It is from Meteo-France and out of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
It shows the western eyewall, which could affect them later tonight. The eastern eyewall has the strongest winds and that could come while they sleep. It is going to be a nightmare for them.
Where does Irma go? Here is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance. The GFS goes up to 10 days.
The forecast models have going west-northwest towards Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. From there, Irma could make landfall on Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. From there, Irma may hit Florida. Where it goes is anyone’s guess. The heat map generally shows once Irma reaches Florida, it goes northward. Keep in mind, this is 5 days away. The heat map shows a low chance that Irma may end up in the Gulf of Mexico. The reason the forecast has Irma going north is a cold front. The cold front is a major factor on where Irma will go. Keep in mind anything can happen and forecast is subject to change.
One wonders how long can Irma be a Category 5 hurricane. Category 5 hurricanes do not last long.
The forecast model keep Irma as a Category 5 hurricane for another 48 hours. If Irma is a Category 5 hurricane for that long, it would be the longest lived Category 5 hurricane. It would be the longest since Ivan in 2004. It may even exceed Ivan and challenge Allen in 1980 or 1932 Cuba Hurricane. That is very telling! Most forecast models have Irma weakening into a Category 4 hurricane, which is still extremely dangerous. However, intensity forecast models are not that reliable. I think Irma could still be a Category 5 hurricane by tomorrow and towards Florida. Again, anything can change.
Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts Nevis are going to have a long night tonight. Howling winds, heavy rain, high waves, and deadly storm surge are going to be very violent. They could see 8 to 12 inches/20.3 to 30.5 centimeters of rain with amount as high as 20 inches/50.8 centimeters.
Here is what I think will happen.
-Irma will maintain and may get stronger.
-The next morning will be horrible for Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, and St. Kitts Nevis.
The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance, National Hurricane Center, and Meteo-France. Special thanks to all of them.