Hurricane Irma ground its way along the northern coast of Cuba on Saturday morning. At 2:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 23.1°N and longitude 80.2°W which put it about 145 miles (235 km) southeast of Key West, Florida. Irma was moving toward the west at 9 m.p.h. (15 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 941 mb.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Aucilla River to Fernandina Beach, Florida including the Florida Keys and Lake Okeechobee. Hurricane Watches are in effect for the portions of the coast from Auculla River to Indian Pass, Florida and from Fernandina Beach, Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for the portions of the coast from Indian Pass to the Okaloosa/Walton County line and from Edisto Beach to South Santee River, South Carolina.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Matanzas, La Habana. A Hurricane Warning was in effect for Andros Island, Bimini and Grand Bahama Island. A Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas.
Hurricane Irma weakened on Saturday morning as the center moved along the northern coast of Cuba. However, the core of Hurricane Irma remained intact. There was an eye at the center of circulation. A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye. Numerous spiral bands were revolving around the core of Hurricane Irma. Thunderstorms in the core of Irma were generating upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the center of the hurricane.
Hurricane Irma is a large hurricane. Winds to hurricane force extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 185 miles (295 km) from the center. The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Irma was 23.6. The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 23.6 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 47.2. Those indices indicate Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread major damage.
Hurricane Irma will move through an environment favorable for intensification for another 12 to 18 hours. Irma will over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 31°C. The upper level winds are relatively weak and there will be little vertical wind shear. Hurricane Irma is likely to intensify back to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale and it could reach Category 5. Hurricane Irma will move closer to an upper level trough over the eastern U.S. on Sunday. Southerly winds on the eastern side of the trough will increase the vertical wind shear and Hurricane Irma will start to weaken.
Hurricane Irma is moving around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean. The subtropical high is steering Hurricane Irma toward the west-northwest. Hurricane Irma will turn more toward the north-northwest when it reaches the western end of the high. On its anticipated track the core of Hurricane Irma will move away from Cuba. The center of Hurricane Irma will be near the Florida Keys by early Sunday morning. Hurricane Irma could be near the southwest coast of Florida by Sunday afternoon.
Hurricane Irma will be capable of causing widespread extensive damage. Winds blowing water toward the coast will generate significant storms surges. Hurricane force winds will cause widespread damage as the Hurricane Irma moves near the west coast of Florida.
Elsewhere over the Atlantic Ocean Hurricane Jose was moving near the northern Leeward Islands. At 2:00 p.m. EDT the center of Hurricane Jose was located at latitude 18.8°N and longitude 61.9°W which put it about 95 miles (155 km) east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands. Jose was moving toward the northwest at 14 m.p.h. (23 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 145 m.p.h. (230 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 175 m.p.h. (285 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 945 mb.
A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for Barbuda, Anguilla, Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.
The core of Hurricane Jose and the strongest winds will move northeast of the northern Leeward Islands. The southern part of the circulation will bring gusty winds which will hamper recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. Jose is forecast to stall over the Atlantic and there is much uncertainty about the ultimate long term track.
The remnants of Hurricane Katia were raining themselves out over eastern Mexico. At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday the center of Tropical Depression Katia was located at latitude 20.0°N and longitude 97.9°W which put it about 125 miles (200 km) west-northwest of Veracruz, Mexico. Katia was moving toward the west-southwest at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 35 m.p.h (55 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 1004 mb.