Hurricane Irma is hurtling toward the eastern US faster than meteorological models anticipated. According to the latest readings from NOAA, the storm will probably make landfall in Southeastern Florida next weekend, or perhaps earlier – that is, unless wind patterns intervene and spare residents of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach from flooding and winds witnessed in Texas and Louisiana, according to NOAA forecasts.
…Bloomberg chief energy correspondent Javier Blas noted that the Hurricane has “shifted a lot further west,” and that, according to the latest forecasts, there’s still a small chance that Irma strikes the Gulf of Mexico, compounding the devastation that Harvey left behind.
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas2) September 4, 2017
Here's what we know about Irma (courtesy of the Weather.com & NOAA):
- The center of Irma is located 610 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west-southwestward at about 14 mph.
- Irma is a Category 3 hurricane and satellite imagery shows that it has become better organized in the past day with an eye now clearly evident.
- Low wind shear, increased mid-level moisture and ample oceanic heat content favor that Irma will remain a major hurricane (Category 3 or stronger) for the next several days, though some intensity fluctuations are likely.
- One potential inhibitor of Irma maintaining its intensity would be if the hurricane's core interacts with land as it cruises westward near the Greater Antilles later this week.
And Weather.com’s latest impact projections:
- Leeward Islands: Late Tuesday-Wednesday
- Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: Wednesday-Thursday
- Dominican Republic/Haiti: Thursday-Friday
- Turks and Caicos: Thursday-Friday
- Bahamas: Friday-next weekend
- Cuba: Friday-next weekend
- United States: Next weekend into early the following week
NOAA satellites captured this stunning video of the sun rising over the hurricane on Monday:
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) September 4, 2017
Hurricane watches have been issued for the Leeward Islands, including Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. According to Weather.com’s latest long-term forecast, by next weekend, Irma will be immediately southeast of the US.
At that point, jet stream dynamics will begin to turn it north. What happens after that will be critical in determining where – or whether – Irma lands in the US. Meanwhile, residents of southeast Florida – having spent the last week reading about the flooding in Houston – are understandably starting to panic.
WPTV in West Palm Beach reports that Shelves of water at several stores were nearly empty Sunday, even as Irma’s path remains uncertain. Hardware stores are also running out of tanks of gas and other supplies.
One distressed shopper told WPTV that one Walmart had run out of bottled water.
“There was nothing at Walmart," said Bianca Rodriguez of Palm Beach Gardens. "Not even like one thing of water.”
According to WPTV, emergency officials recommend people have one gallon of water per person, per day for at least five days in the event of a hurricane. Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that “disaster preparedness” should be a priority for every family in the potential path of the storm.
One shopper said he bought the last remaining cases of bottled water at the Winn-Dixie in Palm Beach Gardens.
“Rodriguez found cases of bottled water at a Winn-Dixie on Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens Sunday night.
‘I lucked out. There’s only a couple left, but at least there was enough for me,’ said Rodriguez.”
A Home Depot in Royal Palm Beach on Monday morning posted a sign that said they were short of some hurricane supplies.
As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, families should make sure their Disaster Supply Kits are ready today. https://t.co/ymXjrTHewW
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 3, 2017
Let’s hope they have time to restock before next weekend…