HURRICANE IRMA: Watches and Warnings

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hurricane-irma-alerts-map.jpgA watch means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A warning means those conditions are expected within 36 hours.

Low wind shear, increased mid-level moisture and increasing oceanic-heat content favor that Irma will remain a powerful hurricane (Category 4 or stronger) for the next several days, though some intensity fluctuations are likely at times. At this intensity, small deviations in wind speed will not change impacts. A direct hit will be catastrophic.

The mountainous terrain of Hispañola could be enough to slightly disrupt the circulation of Irma, allowing winds to drop some, but not by much.

Given the robust nature of Irma's structure, it is possible that it will retain strength longer than currently expected, potentially into the Florida Straights as a Category 5.

Irma has been a Category 5 hurricane for more than a day and a half, which ranks it as the 7th longest lasting Category 5 in the Atlantic basin, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach. Irma could take a run at the longest lasting Category 5 hurricane by Friday.

For the next three days, Irma will move west-northwest on the south side of a ridge of high pressure called the Bermuda high, centered in the central Atlantic.

By this weekend, Irma will begin to turn north in the direction of a departing southward dip in the jet stream that will set up in the eastern United States. Where that northward turn occurs will be critical for what impacts Irma may bring to parts of the southeastern United States.

 

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