Since our weather is going to be very quiet in Hampton Roads, we are focusing most of our attention on the tropics.
Lets start off with Hurricane Irma:
As of the 5 PM update from the National Hurricane Center, Irma is still a strong Category 5 hurricane with winds sustained at 175 MPH. The eye of Irma is passing just north of Hispaniola, towards Turks and Caicos. This storm will pass between the southern Bahama islands and Cuba through Friday into the start of the weekend as a Category 5 hurricane – it’s not expected to weaken much. (Those tiny islands won’t create enough friction to weaken Irma significantly.)
By Saturday evening, Irma will start to turn northward towards southern Florida. It’ll either be a strong Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane as it makes landfall somewhere from Monroe Co. to Dade Co. early Sunday morning. 650,000 people are being evacuated from Miami-Dade Co., which is the largest evacuation ever!
The latest track from the NHC takes Irma directly over Florida and into Georgia, where it will weaken considerably by Monday.
This is a slight shift to the west. The earlier track took Irma over Miami, then back into the water for a potential second landfall near Savannah, GA or Hilton Head, SC. This newest track would certainly be better news for residents and visitors along the Georgia and South Carolina coast, but mandatory evacuations are in place for coastal Georgia. This track could certainly shift back to the east – a 50 to 100-mile shift will make a big difference for Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The sheer size of this storm will affect most of the southeastern US, but the worst of it will be in Florida. Notice if this track comes to fruition, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach will be in the northeast quadrant – that means strongest winds, severe storm surge, and the possibility for tornadoes.
As we take a look at the spaghetti models, they remain in good agreement with sending Irma between the Bahamas and Cuba, then towards Florida.
There’s still a CHANCE Irma won’t make perfect landfall in Florida – it could possibly skirt just along the eastern coast and make landfall in the Georgia or South Carolina. We have to consider all possibilities.
Here are the two models we talk about most often: The American (GFS) and European model.
The NHC track seems to be going along with the European model (in white), whereas the American model (in pink) seems to think this storm could still brush the coast and push into Savannah or Hilton Head. Landfall will be possible anywhere from Charleston, SC to the Florida Everglades.
Either way, once Irma pushes on land, it’ll weaken and remain west of Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina. We will feel some effects here, but it won’t be anything to write home about.
We will start to tap into some of the rain associated with Irma by Monday afternoon. The rain will get heavier and the winds will pick up Monday night and continue through Tuesday. There’s a chance we could experience tropical storm force wind gusts in excess of 39 MPH.
Turning to Hurricane Jose – our 3rd MAJOR hurricane of the Atlantic season. Jose became a Category 3 hurricane with winds sustained at 120 MPH. This storm will remain a major hurricane as it passes slightly north of the Lesser Antilles this weekend.
Jose isn’t expected to make landfall on those islands, but there will be more rain and very strong winds in Antigua, Barbuda, and Anguilla. Pretty much the last thing they need. This storm will eventually curve north and turn out to sea. We’ll see if that remains the case over the next few days.
We also have Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico. We haven’t covered that much because it’ll make landfall in Mexico and won’t affect the US at all.
The last time we saw 3 hurricanes at once was back in September 2010 with Igor, Julia, and Karl.
Looks pretty similar to our current situation, huh??
We’ll keep you updated over the next few days. Bottom line, doesn’t look like we’ll see much of an effect in Hampton Roads, but if you want to be prepared JUST IN CASE, feel free to buy extra water, canned goods, pet food..fill your propane tanks for the grill, and fill your car with gas.
-Meteorologist Ashley Baylor