Irma’s a Category 5
Irma is a long way from the U.S., but some islands like the U.S. and British Virgin Islands will get hit hard soon. After that the various models seem to fall into two central ideas – both bring Irma WNW staying just north of Puerto Rico and Cuba (while wiping out the Turks and Caicos) until things change while she’s just south of Florida. About half the models bring the storm north either over Florida or just off the east coast. Then a move inland anywhere between Georgia and Myrtle Beach. (Hilton Head ?)
Second set of models brings Irma along the west coast of Florida with landfall over the panhandle to as far west as Mobile.
It’s anybody’s guess at this time – a few minor changes over the next few days could alter the forecast significantly.
As to intensity, Irma’s a Category 5 now. The strongest hurricane ever observed purely over the Atlantic Ocean. Stronger hurricanes have formed over the Atlantic Basin, but they were in either the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea.
While hurricane position forecasting has steadily improved, the same cannot be said for intensity forecasts. They are notoriously poor! Just yesterday the forecast for Irma was to remain a Cat 3 through tomorrow, then slowly weaken; today she’s a Cat 5. Today’s prediction is for Irma to slowly weaken over the next five days, but remain a major hurricane.
P.S. Just a final thought…The morning run of the U.S. workhorse forecast model, the GFS, brings Irma northward along the Florida Coast this weekend with landfall near the Georgia/South Carolina border. The GFS then weakens the storm as it drifts northwest. Finally, the GFS has Irma’s remnants fading away over Kentucky next Wed/Thu. Just something to think about.
(I think you should NEVER believe a weather forecast that far in advance – let’s see what happens.)