As of 8 pm ET, Hurricane Irma has maximum sustained winds of 185 mph with gusts reaching 225 mph. After undergoing rapid intensification, Irma has maintained its strength and is now one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic. It is the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded outside of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Ocean, and if its sustained winds increase to over 190 mph, Irma will officially become the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. While sustained winds did not increase between the 5 and 8 pm advisories, the pressure dropped from 926 to 916 millibars.
Figure 1: Latest infrared imagery of Hurricane Irma
Firsthand Weather will be coming out with a detailed article on Hurricane Irma tomorrow evening (Wednesday evening) at 8 pm. This will be one of my more in-depth articles on this system, and I encourage everyone to be on the website around that time. I’ll be discussing potential impacts, track, etc.
Figure 2: Hurricane Irma latest projected path
Hurricane Irma is steadily moving westward towards the Leeward Islands, which will be the strongest hurricane to have ever impacted that region (since records have been kept). Antigua and Barbuda are first in line to be heavily impacted by Irma, and overall, conditions will deteriorate considerably, particularly across the northern Leeward Islands, as the night progresses. From this point onward, Irma will trek along the northern parts of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba. Conditions, especially over northern/northeastern Puerto Rico, will decline over the course of tomorrow, and if this system were to trek just slightly farther south than currently projected, impacts will be much worse. Of particular interest in the short-term will be to see how closely Irma tracks to Hispaniola, given that this mountainous island is notorious for rapidly weakening tropical systems. On the downside, a hurricane of this magnitude would devastate those islands, and we don’t want that to occur either. The Bahamas will need to closely monitor Irma towards the end of the week, and then the focus will shift entirely to impacts on the United States.
I know that this was a much less detailed article than what is typical to come from me, but again, I will be releasing a very detailed forecast tomorrow evening at 8 pm ET.