On the heels of the hellacious Hurricane Harvey that harpooned Houston and beyond last week, a new threat has emerged in the Atlantic Ocean…and it’s a doozy.
Hurricane Irma, which is casting its imposing shadow in the Caribbean as we speak, has now strengthened to a category 5 storm, one massive increment more powerful than Harvey was when he slammed into the Texas gulf coast.
Not only is Irma now a full category more intense than Hurricane Harvey was, but the sustained wind speeds have given Irma the distinction of being the most powerful Atlanta hurricane ever recorded.
This massive and terrifying storm is still hundreds of miles from the U.S. coast, but mandatory evacuations are already being issued for parts of South Florida, where many meteorologists believe that Irma will make landfall in the U.S., possibly by the end of the week.
“Irma spun into a monster storm Tuesday morning with sustained winds topping 180 mph, becoming the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in their 11 a.m. advisory.
“As the hurricane churns closer to the U.S. coast, its path becomes more certain, with South Florida, particularly the Keys, increasingly likely to take a hit. Tropical storm force winds could arrive as early as Friday. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties and has all 7,000 members of the state’s National Guard to report to duty on Friday.
“Because Irma is so large, forecasters urged caution in paying too much attention to its exact track. The storm is continuing to roll west at 14 mph, with winds expected to begin battering the Leeward Islands today. A powerful high pressure ridge is steering the storm and will likely stay in place over the next few days, forecasters said. In five days, a trough moving across the U.S. should begin weakening the western edge of the ridge, allowing the storm to slide north. Where Irma makes the turn will determine impacts to Florida.”