Powerful Hurricane Irma expected to bulk up to Category 4 storm by next week



Powerful Hurricane Irma expected to bulk up to Category 4 storm by next week

by Doug Phillips
Sun Sentinel

Hurricane Irma has become a monster storm that is projected to reach Category 4 strength, with winds up to 140 mph, by next week.

Irma is moving through the eastern Atlantic and currently poses no threat to land. It will not be a factor in Florida’s weather through the weekend, but the storm bears watching.

At 5 a.m. Friday, Irma, a Category 3 storm, was about 840 miles northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, or about 2,800 miles from South Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is moving toward the northwest at 12 mph.

Forecasters are more certain about Irma’s future strength than its future path. There are significant differences, so far, in some of the key models that experts use to help predict a storm’s path.

Right now it is known that a system of high pressure will steer the storm toward the west and then toward the west-southwest during the weekend. After that, Irma’s eventual path may come into sharper focus.

As for the storm’s strength, there doesn’t appear to be much to inhibit Irma from bulking up.

By early Wednesday, as the storm is approaching the northern Leeward Islands, its winds are forecast to reach 140 mph, Category 4 strength.

As we are in the peak of hurricane season, it’s no surprise that another system is being watched by the hurricane center.

In the far eastern Atlantic, a tropical wave has just emerged off the coast of Africa. “This system could become a tropical depression early next week while it moves westward at 15 mph over the tropical Atlantic,” Cagialosi indicated.