It’s been a long week talking about Irma, but the end is in sight. Earlier this morning, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Cudjoe Key in the Lower Florida Keys around 9 AM. As Irma continued north, the storm made a second landfall on Marco Island around 3:30 PM. Right now, Irma has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane with winds sustained at 105 MPH. You can’t really get hung up on the Category though..1, 2, or 3. As we have been saying, the sheer size of the storm would have an effect on the entire state. By the way, did you notice those high, thin cirrus clouds in Hampton Roads this afternoon? Yup, courtesy of Irma!
Heavy rain and destructive winds have been pounding the Sunshine State all day. A 142 MPH gust was reported in Naples earlier this evening. Feeder bands have been causing heavy rain across central and eastern parts of the state, where several tornado warnings have been issued. When I was looking at the radar images earlier, it was clear waterspouts were spinning up as well. But as is with all hurricanes, one of the major problems has been storm surge. Storm surge is the leading cause of casualties in hurricanes.
Central and southwestern parts of the Gulf Coast could potentially see 10′ to 15′ storm surge, which is incredible! Water moves with such a force, nothing can stop it. Even the Tampa bay area could see 5′ to 8′ storm surge as the storm passes by. Due to the counter-clockwise rotation around the storm, the storm surge can happen even once the eye has passed. Flooding and the damage from flooding will be the biggest issue for days to come. And remember, plenty of homes in Florida are only 1-story, which means whole houses can get inundated with water.
Now – what’s really interesting – is the fact some parts of Florida and the Bahamas have experienced the reverse effect of storm surge.
Check out the video.
The wind has been so strong, it has actually pushed the water away from shallow basins, like Tampa Bay, Long Island, Bahamas. A lot of people took advantage of this incredible phenomenon and walked where the water would normally be. Unfortunately, that’s not a good idea, because once the wind switches direction, the water will come rushing back.
Irma’s track will continue north, passing by Tampa overnight as a Category 1 hurricane.
As the storm tracks farther north, it’ll continue to weaken, becoming a tropical storm as it enters Georgia.
Eventually, Irma will move farther inland towards the Mississippi River Valley and fizzle to just an area of low pressure. Luckily, Irma will stay far west of Hampton Roads that any effect here will be pretty minimal.
We will see a few on and off showers on Tuesday. Winds will be out of the East at 10 to 20 MPH, which, in turn, could cause some nuisance tidal flooding. High tide will come up around 1:30 Monday afternoon – water levels will crest around 4.2′. Expect another chance for nuisance tidal flooding again Tuesday afternoon around 2:30. If you live in an area that is prone to tidal flooding, you know what to expect. As I said yesterday and the day before, this is nothing to write home about.
Although Hurricane Jose might be something..
Once Irma fizzles, here comes Jose down the pike. Hurricane Jose shows signs of weakening over the next few days as it spins out in the Atlantic.
By late next week into next weekend, Jose could turn towards the East Coast. I’m not saying it’ll make landfall, but it’ll raise an eyebrow for every meteorologist from New England to Florida.
I’ll warn you now – we’ll be talking about Jose and the potential path A LOT next week.
-Meteorologist Ashley Baylor