Hurricane Irma Closing in on Category 5; Winds are 150 MPH With Gusts to 185 MPH
Hurricane Irma has continued to strengthen and is now not far from Category 5 status as top sustained winds are 150 mph with gusts to 185 mph. Florida is preparing for a direct hit, with most of the models showing the storm to get close to Cuba or possibly make landfall in Cuba before making a sharp 90 degree turn to the north and riding up the entire state of Florida, possibly from Sunday afternoon to early Tuesday morning. The latest model runs now take it up the west side of Florida, but it's too soon to tell, and it's entirely possible that the trend can continue farther west. The GFS and Euro both show very similar locations of landfall. If it makes landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, there will be extensive wind damage and coastal flooding, as well as 10 to 20 inch rain totals for areas on the east side of the eye. The Florida Keys are going to take a catastrophic hit if the track remains on course, and evacuations should begin today or tomorrow as 3 days are needed to evacuate the Florida Keys.
The following image shows the official National Hurricane Center forecast track with the cone of uncertainty:
The following image shows the expected location of Hurricane Irma at 2 PM Sunday, according to the GFS model. The Euro model is a little slower.
Image from tropicaltidbits.com