Tracking Irma

Major Hurricane Irma is churning in the central Atlantic Ocean and there are a lot of eyes watching it.   The long range satellite images show a healthy, category 3 system that will get closer to the northernmost Lesser Antilles over the next couple days.   A portion of the  Leeward Islands are now under a hurricane watch for possible impacts from Tuesday through Wednesday.   Shortly thereafter, the concern will spread toward the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola.   The official forecast also has Irma strengthening while generally staying north of these islands (at least the center of the system).    High pressure will continue steering Irma west, then a northwest veer is expected as the week continues.   After 3 or 4 days, there more questions than answers regarding the future of the hurricane.   There is, however, a high degree of confidence that Irma remains a powerful force as it slogs over the western Atlantic Ocean.   There’s also an increasing possibility for a direct impact from the Turks and Caicos islands into the Bahamas, later in the week.    That would probably be in the Thursday to Friday time frame.   After that point, steering winds get more complicated and it’s tricky to know which direction the hurricane will take.   A front over Florida could tend to deflect the system initially, but there’s question of whether the front will dissipate too early to help.   Any possible impacts for Florida would likely take place during next weekend.   Meanwhile, the southeast coast of the United States and entire eastern seaboard will also have to follow the future movement of Irma.   Several forecast models have the hurricane hovering relatively close to land over the span of several days (into next week).