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Tropical Storm Irma on Verge of Hurricane Status, But What About the Track?

Tropical Storm Irma continued to strengthen overnight, and top sustained winds are now 70 mph with gusts up to 85 mph. It is expected that Irma will become a hurricane when the National Hurricane Center issues its 11 AM update. Most models project Irma to become a category 3 hurricane with 120 mph sustained winds by Sunday. A strong ridge of high pressure to the north of Irma is expected to turn the storm on a WSW path starting tomorrow night and continuing for several days.

The big divergence in track then begins between the GFS and Euro models. The GFS curves Irma NW and on a path towards Bermuda and then towards Maine and Nova Scotia. However, the Euro is showing a stronger ridge of high pressure that keeps Irma on more of a westerly path with direct impacts on islands such as St. Martin, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. After that, it could potentially impact southern Florida or head into the Gulf of Mexico and re-strengthen. The Euro model has to be favored in this case due to its better track record lately with tropical systems in the 5 to 8 day time-frame.

The following images show the huge differences in location of Irma 10 days from now between the Euro (first image) and GFS (second image):

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