Hurricane Irma is still a Category 5 hurricane at 2:00 a.m., Friday, September 8, with winds at 160 mph. The winds of this historic hurricane stayed at 185 mph for an astonishing 35 hours. Just because they have dropped to 160 does not mean that Hurricane Irma is not as strong as ever. It is still a strong Category 5 hurricane, showing no real signs of weakening. It is currently lashing the Turks and Caicos islands, moving toward the southeastern Bahamas. Puerto Rico did not sustain a direct hit, but it did sustain heavy damage. Irma is approaching South Florida and is expected to arrive there by Saturday evening, with tropical storm force winds possibly arriving earlier.
Since I blogged #HurricaneIrma last night, it has done massive damage to island nations. Hurricane warnings are up for portions of Florida, Cuba, Haiti, and all of the Bahamas. By morning, hurricane warnings will likely be up for all or most of the state of Florida. Storm surge warnings are up for all of the Bahamas, South Florida, parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and parts of Cuba. Surge amounts vary from 3-5 feet to 15-20 feet, but it is an inexact science.
The projected track of Hurricane Irma has changed since I blogged last night. It is no longer expected to track up the east coast of Florida. Instead, most models put Irma tracking directly up the middle of the peninsula of Florida. Since Irma is such a large hurricane in geographic size, wider than the Florida peninsula, it will affect most of both coasts. Barrier islands off both coasts are under mandatory evacuation orders.
The impact of Hurricane Irma’s effect on the coasts depends on when it makes a northward turn. The closer it gets to the eastern coast of Florida before it makes its turn, the more it will also impact the Gulf coast. If it doesn’t turn until it gets closer to the middle of the state, then both coasts will be impacted. The northeastern side of the hurricane will be most severely impacted with the western side less so. However, hurricane force winds extend in every direction 75 miles from the center of the hurricane.
Writer’s Note: Once again, I find myself speechless. There seems to be nothing at all to add except this. To anyone reading this still on a barrier island off the Florida coast, if you can still evacuate, please consider doing so. To everyone else in my adopted home for six months of the year, please stay safe.