Eye on Irma

Hurricane Irma is still very far away.  In fact, it’s “half an ocean” away, at this point.   Since it’s in the central Atlantic and more than 2000 miles from the United States, that gives us plenty of time to watch… and follow its progress.   The short term track has a high degree of confidence.   Irma will continue moving generally westward with nothing to weaken it.   Additional strengthening is expected, especially as it gets closer to the Leeward Islands and reaches the western Atlantic.   Of course, this will happen over the course of several days.   Irma is likely to become a category 4 hurricane by the middle of the week.   The first possible brush with the system could be the northern Leeward Islands, on Tuesday or Wednesday.   That, by the way, is also when some of the models begin to expand and show more uncertainty.   The consensus is that Hurricane Irma will eventually move north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola as the week continues.   As mentioned, that’s subject to change.   In the longer term, Irma may approach the Bahamas and could get “too close for comfort” for Florida.   While we all want answers and more information on that potential, it’s simply too early to project.   The easy part of the Irma forecast is the high pressure area (north of the hurricane) that’s steering it westward.   What’s unclear, though, is whether the high will hold firmly in place throughout its journey, at the end of the week.   Another important element involves the jet stream over the United States  (and an associated front) which could theoretically deflect Irma, turning it northward away from the Bahamas and Florida.   The obvious, best case scenario would involve that turn.   A stronger or sharper curve could even keep the east coast states free from tropical worry.   For now, though, the entire eastern seaboard needs to patiently watch and wait.   No U.S. impacts would come until Friday at the earliest.   Remember, we’re now at the peak of the 2017 Hurricane Season.   If you haven’t made preparations for a possible strike,whether it’s Irma or another future threat, consider taking this time to do so.    You don’t want to wait until the last minute, and not be clear-headed, should hurricane plans need to be acted upon.