Intense Hurricane Irma (185 mph sustained winds) is barreling through the northern Leeward Island, seemingly swallowing entire islands as it goes…
… and is expected to continue pushing west-northwest toward Florida.
The Billion-Dollar question (potentially) is when will Irma make the right hand turn. The NHC puts the storm on a track that takes it right up the Florida Peninsula, though the just-in computer model forecast data is edging the storm track a bit to the east, raking the eastern coast of Florida and then taking it right at Charleston, SC. The models that fall into this more eastern camp include:
The 00z UKMET model takes it a hair farther west right up the FL peninsula, but really is not that much different than the others. The oddball is the 00z Canadian Model, which takes it much farther east out in the Atlantic toward New England.
All folks in the Southeastern U.S. (or with family/friends down there) need to continue to watch this very closely.
The good news: The threat to the western coast of FL — while not over — has gone down a notch with this more eastern track. The bad news is this now puts the southern Carolina beaches (i.e. Charleston) in the bulls-eye for major impacts, and also ramps up the potential impacts for the Mid-Atlantic region.
Timing… Irma will head toward southern Florida over the weekend, but the models are much, much faster than the NHC’s official forecast. The NHC takes it into srn FL Monday. That seems a little slow, honestly. The European and GFS models bring it toward southern Florida Saturday night and Sunday morning; toward the SC/GA coast Monday into Monday night; then into the Mid-Atlantic region Tuesday into Wednesday. While I don’t want to diss the NHC, I’m inclined to go with the faster model forecast… and I’d plan accordingly. Plus, this way if it ends up being slower, you’ve got an extra day or two.
OK… that’s the latest.