The tropical Atlantic Ocean continued to be very active on Friday. Destructive Hurricane Irma battered the Southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Powerful Hurricane Jose threatened the northern Leeward Islands only 48 hours after Hurricane Irma caused significant damage to them. Hurricane Katia neared a landfall on the coast of Mexico between Tampico and Veracruz.
At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 22.1°N and longitude 76.5°W which put it about 345 miles (555 km) southeast of Miami, Florida. Irma was moving toward the west at 12 m.p.h. The maximum sustained wind speed was 155 m.p.h. (250 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 180 m.p.h. (290 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 925 mb.
A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Anna Maria Island to Sebastian Inlet, Florida including the Florida Keys and Lake Okeechobee. Hurricane Watches were in effect for the portions of the coast from Anna Maria Island to the Suwannee River and from Sebastian Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia Count line. A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara. Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence. Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador. Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Long Cay, Crooked Island, the Inaguas, Mayaguana and the Ragged Islands.
Hurricane Watches were in effect for the Cuba provinces of Matanzas, Holguin, Las Tunas and Guantanamo. Tropical Storm Warnings were in effect for the Cuban provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas and Guantamo.
Hurricane Irma completed an eyewall replacement cycle on Friday morning. After the inner eyewall dissipated the circulation rapidly concentrated on the outer eyewall. The eyewall replacement cycle caused some weakening of Hurricane Irma but it remained a powerful Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The eyewall replacement cycle resulted in an increase in the size of the circulation of Hurricane Irma. Winds to hurricane force now extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extend out almost 185 miles (295 km) from the center.
The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Irma is 33.3. The Hurricane Size Index is 23.0 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index is 56.3. Hurricane Irma is stronger, but a little smaller than Hurricane Wilma was when Wilma made landfall in south Florida in 2005.
Hurricane Irma is moving through a very favorable environment. Irma is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C. The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear. Part of the southern side of the circulation is passing over Cuba, but the core of Hurricane Wilma is remaining over water. Hurricane Irma should remain a very powerful hurricane during the next 36 hours.
Hurricane Irma is moving near the western end of a large subtropical high that has been steering the hurricane toward the west. Irma started to move a little more slowly on Friday afternoon as it approached the end of the high. Hurricane Irma is forecast to continue to move west-northwest for another 12 to 24 hours. When Hurricane Irma reaches the end of the high, it will start moving toward the north. On its anticipated track the core of Hurricane Irma will pass north of the north coast of Cuba on Saturday. Hurricane Irma is forecast to reach the Florida Keys on Saturday night.
Hurricane Irma is a large and dangerous hurricane. Irma is capable of causing widespread extensive damage. Hurricane Irma’s winds will be very destructive and they could cause widespread power outages in Florida. There will be a significant storm surge in the Florida Keys and on both the east and west coast of Florida.
Hurricane Jose intensified rapidly on Friday to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Jose now threatens to bring very strong winds to places devastated by Hurricane Irma earlier this week. At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Jose was located at latitude 16.6°N and longitude 58.3°W which put it about 335 miles (540 km) east of the Leeward Islands. Jose was moving toward the west-northwest at 17 m.p.h. The maximum sustained wind speed was 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 180 m.p.h. (290 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 940 mb.
Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Barthelemy, Sint Maarten and St. Martin. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Antigua. Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Antigua, Saba and St. Eustatius. Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John.
Hurricane Jose has a small, well organized circulation. There is a clear eye at the center of circulation. The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strong winds are occurring in that ring of storms. Hurricane Jose is much smaller than Hurricane Irma. Winds to hurricane force extend out about 35 miles (55 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 140 miles (225 km) from the center.
Upper level divergence from Hurricane Irma is causing some vertical wind shear over Hurricane Jose, but the shear did not prevent Jose from intensifying into a major hurricane. Hurricane Jose is forecast to remain a major hurricane for several more days. The same subtropical high steering Hurricane Irma is also steering Jose toward the west north-west. On its anticipated track Hurricane Jose could reach the northern Leeward Islands late on Saturday. Some of those islands suffered widespread extensive damage from Hurricane Irma and a direct hit by Jose would be devastating. Even if the core of Hurricane Jose moves just north of those islands, the strong winds will serious affect efforts to recover from Hurricane Irma.
After being nearly stationary over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico for several days, Hurricane Katia began to move toward the coast of Mexico on Friday. At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Katia was located near latitude 21.0°N and longitude 96.5°W which put it about 125 miles (225 km) north of Veracruz, Mexico. Katia was moving toward the west-southwest at 7 m.p.h. The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 972 mb.
A Hurricane Warning was in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Rojo to Laguna Verde, Mexico.
Hurricane Katia is a small hurricane. Winds to hurricane force only extend out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center. Winds to tropical storm force only extend out about 70 miles (110 km) from the center.
A mid-level ridge over the western Gulf of Mexico is steering Hurricane Katia toward the west-southwest. On its anticipated track Hurricane Katia will make landfall on the coast of Mexico between Tampico and Veracruz on Friday night. The center is likely to make landfall near Tecolutla. Although the small size of Katia’s circulation will limit the wind damage, the hurricane will cause a significant storm surge along the portion of the coast where the center makes landfall. Katia will also produce heavy rain and a chance for flash floods as it moves inland and dissipates.