Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma Batters Bahamas, Jose Threatens Leewards, Katia Nears Mexico

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.

Powerful Hurricane Irma Approaches Bahamas, Watches Issued for Florida

Powerful Hurricane Irma move north of the Dominican Republic on its approach to the Bahamas on Thursday morning.  Hurricane Watches were issued for south Florida because of the potential impact of Hurricane Irma.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 20.4°N and longitude 69.7°W which put it about 120 miles (190 km) southeast of Grand Turk Island and about 785 miles (1265 km) east-southeast of Miami, Florida.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 175 m.p.h. (280 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 200 m.p.h. (320 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 921 mb.

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos, the southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana and the Ragged Islands, the central Bahamas including Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, the northwestern Bahamas including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Island, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island and New Providence.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the portion of the coast from Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach, Florida including the Florida Keys and Lake Okeechobee and from Matanzas province to Guantanamo province in Cuba.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic to the southern border with Haiti, from Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port Au Prince, Haiti and for the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin and Las Tunas.

Hurricane Irma remains a large and dangerous hurricane.  Irma weakened slightly on Thursday morning, but it still was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  Irma has a large circular eye at the center of circulation.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 185 miles (305 km) from the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Irma is 40.4.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 19.2 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 59.6.  Those indices indicate that Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage.

Hurricane Irma will remain in a favorable environment for the next several days.  Irma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds will be weak and there will be little vertical wind shear during the next 24 to 36 hours.  When Irma gets farther north it will be near the southern end of a large upper level trough over the eastern U.S.  The trough will produce southeasterly winds which will increase the shear somewhat.  Hurricane Irma will remain a large dangerous hurricane.

Hurricane Irma is moving around the western end of a subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Irma toward the west-northwest and that general motion is expected to continue for another 36 to 48 hours.  The effects of the upper level trough are expected to turn Irma toward the north during the weekend.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Irma will reach the Turks and Caicos on Thursday night.  Irma will move across the southeastern Bahamas on Friday and it could be north of Cuba by Saturday morning.  Hurricane Irma could reach southern Florida by Sunday morning.

Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage.  Irma will generate storm surges as high as 19 feet (6 meters) when it passes over the Bahamas.  Irma will cause widespread wind damage and locally heavy rain could cause flash floods.

The destructive core of Hurricane Irma moved over Barbuda, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.  There are reports of widespread damage on those islands.  Other nearby islands my have also suffered significant damage.

Hurricane Jose is following in the wake of Hurricane Irma and Watches have been issued for some of the northern Leeward Islands.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Jose was located at latitude 14.9°N and longitude 50.6°W which put it about 715 miles (1155 km) east of the Leeward Islands.  Jose was moving toward the west-northwest at 18 m.p.h. (30 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 90 m.p.h. (150 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 105 m.p.h. (170 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 986 mb.

Hurricane Watches have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis.

Hurricane Jose is moving through a favorable environment of warm Sea Surface Temperatures and little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Jose is forecast to intensify into a major hurricane.  The same subtropical high steering Hurricane Irma is also steering Hurricane Jose.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Jose could reach the northern Leeward Islands on Saturday.  It could be a major hurricane at that time.  If Hurricane Jose moves over some of the same places hit by Hurricane Irma it will serious impede efforts to recover from Irma.

Hurricane Katia is threatening parts of Mexico.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Hurricane Katia was located at latitude 21.6°N and longitude 94.6°W which put it about 215 miles (345 km) east of Tampico, Mexico.  Katia was stationary.  the maximum sustained wind speed was 80 m.p.h. (130 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 95 m.p.h. (155km/h)  The minimum surface pressure was 980 mb.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Rojo to Laguna Verde, Mexico.

 

Cat. 5 Hurricane Irma Moving Over Northern Leeward Islands

Category 5 Hurricane Irma moved over the northern Leeward Islands on Wednesday morning.  At 5:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 17.9°N and longitude 62.6°W which put it about 35 miles (55 km) east-southeast of St. Martin.  Irma was moving toward the west-northwest at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 185 m.p.h. (295 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 210 m.p.h. (340 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 912 mb.

The core of Hurricane Irma moved across Antigua, Barbuda, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin in recent hours.  It will reach Anguilla later this morning.

Hurricane Watches were in effect for Antigua, Anguilla, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, Guadeloupe, the southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Cooked Islands, Long Cay, the Iguanas, Mayaguane, the Ragged Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and the portion of the coast of Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic to the northern border with Haiti.  Hurricane Watches are in effect for the central Bahamas, the portion of the coast from Le Mole St. Nicholas to the northern border with Haiti and from Matanzas province to Guantanamo province in Cuba.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the portion of the coast from Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic to the southern border with Haiti.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the portion of the coast from Le Mole St. Nicolas, Haiti to Port Au Prince.

Hurricane Irma maintained its intensity during the northern overnight hours.  It has a circular eye with a diameter of 30 miles (48 km).  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) is 44.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 19.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 63.9.  Those indices indicate that Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread catastrophic wind damage.

Hurricane Irma will continue to move over an environment very favorable for hurricanes.  Irma will stay over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds will remain weak for several more days and there will be little wind shear.  An upper level trough over the eastern U.S. will produce strong winds when Irma gets closer to Florida.  The wind shear will increase at that time.  Hurricane Irma could go through eyewall replacement cycles which would cause fluctuations in intensity.

Hurricane Irma is moving near the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean which is steering Irma toward the west-northwest.  The west-northwesterly motion is expected to continue for several more days.  Eventually, the upper level trough over the eastern U.S. is forecast to turn Hurricane Irma toward the north when it approaches Florida.  On its anticipated track the center of Hurricane Irma is forecast to pass north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.

Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Jose is trailing behind Hurricane Irma and Tropical Storm Katia has developed over the southern Gulf of Mexico.  At 5:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Jose was located at latitude 12.5°N and longitude 42.8°W which put it about 1255 miles east of the Leeward Islands.  Jose was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 75 m.p.h. (120 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.

At 5:00 a.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Katia was located at latitude 22.1°N and longitude 96.3°W which put it about 105 miles (165 km) east of Tampico, Mexico.  Katia was moving toward the east at 2 m.p.h. (3 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.

Very Dangerous Hurricane Irma Reaches Cat. 5

Very dangerous Hurricane Irma reached category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on Tuesday morning.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 12.3°N and longitude 39.1°W which put it about 225 miles (365 km) east of Antigua.  Irma was moving toward the west at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 180 m.p.h. (285 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 210 m.p.h. (340 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 931 mb.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Guadeloupe and Dominica.  Hurricane Watches are in effect for Guadeloupe, the southeastern Bahamas including the Acklins, Crooked Islands, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands.  A Hurricane Watch is also in effect for the portion of the the coast from Cabo Engano, Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas, Haiti.  Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for the portion of the coast from Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port Au Prince, Haiti and from Cabo Engano to Isla Saona, Dominican Republic.

Hurricane Irma intensified rapidly after the completion of the most recent eyewall replacement cycle.  The structure evolved in a large classic Cape Verde hurricane.  The is a large circular eye at the center of circulation.  A ring of very strong thunderstorms surrounds the eye and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Hurricane Irma.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 160 miles (260 km) from the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Irma is 44.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 19.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 63.9.  Hurricane Irma is as strong as Hurricane Rita was in 2005, but Irma is just slightly smaller than Rita was.  Hurricane Irma is capable of causing widespread catastrophic damage.

Hurricane Irma is moving through an environment that is very favorable for hurricanes.  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.  Hurricane Irma will likely remain very strong as long as it stays over water.  Additional eyewall replacement cycles could occur and they would result in fluctuations in the intensity of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma is being steered to the west by a very strong subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  Irma is expected to turn a little more toward the west-northwest as it moves closer to the western end of the high.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Irma will move across the northern Leeward Islands during the next 24 hours.  It will be near Puerto Rico on Wednesday and near the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

Hurricane Irma is an very dangerous hurricane.  It is capable of producing widespread catastrophic damage.  Hurricane Irma will also drop extremely heavy rain and flooding is very possible.

Hurricane Irma Strengthens to Cat. 4, Watch in effect for Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma strengthened to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale on Monday and a Hurricane Watch was issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Monday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 16.7°N and longitude 54.4°W which put it about 490 miles (790 km) east of the Leeward Islands.  Irma was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 130 m.p.h. (215 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 160 m.p.h. (260 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 944 mb.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy.  Hurricane Watches are in effect for Guadeloupe, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.  A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Guadeloupe.  A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.

The circulation of Hurricane Irma has been going through a series of eyewall replacement cycles.  A plane flying through Irma reported concentric eyewalls earlier today.  The two eyewalls appear to have merged.  A small circular eye is at the center of circulation.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounds the eye and the strongest winds are occurring in that ring of storms.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Hurricane Irma.  Storms around the center are generating strong upper level divergence which is pumping away mass in all directions from the hurricane.

Hurricane Irma has been increasing in size.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 40 miles (65 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 140 miles (225 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Irma is 25.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 13.6.  The Hurricane Wind Intensity Size index (HWISI) is 38.7.

Hurricane Irma will move through an environment very favorable for tropical cyclones.  Irma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Irma could strengthen further and it has a chance to reach Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  Hurricane Irma is likely to go through additional eyewall replacement cycles, which will cause fluctuations in its intensity, but Irma should remain a strong hurricane as it nears the northern Leeward Islands.

The subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean has been steering Hurricane Irma toward the west and that general motion is expected to continue for another 12 to 24 hours.  After that time Irma is expected to turn more toward the west-northwest.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Irma will approach the northern Leeward Islands late on Tuesday.  Hurricane Irma could approach Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Hurricane Irma Moves Toward Leeward Islands, Watches Issued

Hurricane Irma moved toward the northern Leeward Islands on Sunday and Hurricane Watches were issued for a number of those islands.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 17.2°N and longitude 51.0°W which put it about 710 miles (1145 km) east of the Leeward Islands.  Irma was moving toward the west-southwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 115 m.p.h. (185 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 140 m.p.h. (225 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 961 mb.

Hurricane Watches were in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St, Martin, and St. Barthelemy.

The circulation of Hurricane Irma is very well organized.  There is a nearly circular eye with a diameter of 30 miles (48 km) at the center of circulation.  The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms and the strongest winds are occurring in the northeastern part of the ring.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the core of Hurricane Irma.  Thunderstorms around the core are generating strong upper level divergence which is pumping mass away in all directions from the hurricane.  Winds to hurricane force extend out about 35 miles (55 km) from the center.  Winds to tropical storm force extend out about 140 miles (225 km) from the center.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Hurricane Irma is 20.6.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 11.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 32.3.

Hurricane Irma will move through an environment favorable for intensification.  Irma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C and there is warmer water farther west.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Irma could intensify into a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  There is a possibility that Irma could strengthen to Category 5 when it passes near the northern Leeward Islands and moves toward the Bahamas.  Hurricane Irma has already completed several eyewall replacement cycles and there could be more.  Each eyewall replacement cycle could result in fluctuations in the intensity of Hurricane Irma.

A strong subtropical high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean is steering Hurricane Irma toward the west-southwest.  The high is forecast to weaken just a bit during the next several days and Hurricane Irma is expected to move more toward the west-northwest.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Irma will approach the northward Leeward Islands on Tuesday night.  It will be a strong, dangerous hurricane at that time.

Hurricane Irma Completes Quick Eyewall Replacement Cycle and Strengthens

Hurricane Irma completed a quick eyewall replacement cycle on Friday and it strengthened after the cycle ended.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday the center of Hurricane Irma was located at latitude 18.8°N and longitude 39.1°W which put it about 1495 miles (2405 km) east of the Leeward Islands.  Irma was moving toward the west at 13 m.p.h. (20 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 964 mb.

Hurricane Irma is a small circular hurricane.  There is a small eye at the center of circulation. The eye is surrounded by a ring of strong thunderstorms.  Additional bands of showers and thunderstorms are revolving around the eye.  Winds to hurricane force only extend out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force only extend out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center.  The thunderstorms around the center are generating well developed upper level divergence which is pumping mass away in all directions.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Irma is 22.1  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) is 7.6 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) is 29.7.

Hurricane Irma will move through an environment favorable for intensification.  Irma will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  The upper level winds are weak and there is little vertical wind shear.  Hurricane Irma is likely to intensify further, but there are also likely to be additional eyewall replacement cycles which will cause fluctuations in the intensity.

Hurricane Irma is located south of the subtropical high over the Atlantic Ocean.  The high is steering Irma toward the west.  The high is forecast to strengthen over the weekend and it is likely to steer Hurricane Irma more toward the west-southwest.  On its anticipated track Hurricane Irma could approach the Leeward Islands early next week.

Tropical Depression 12 Forms and Warnings Issued for the Bahamas

A small center of circulation developed within a larger disturbance near the Bahamas and the National Hurricane Center classified it as Tropical Depression 12 (TD12).  At 10:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Depression 12 was located at latitude 23.0°N and longitude 73.0°W which put it about 115 miles (185 km) southeast of San Salvador in the Bahamas and about 30 miles (50 km) north of Mayaguana.  TD12 was moving toward the northwest at 14 m.p.h. (22 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 1010 mb.

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for the Central and Northwestern Bahamas and for the Acklins, Samana Cays, Crooked Island and Long Cay in the Southeastern Bahamas.

Tropical Depression 12 formed when a tropical wave interacted an upper level low.  Tropical cyclones that develop in that manner tend to be poorly organized in their early stages.  Most of the stronger thunderstorms are located east and south of the center of circulation.  The surface center is located on the western edge of the convection.

Although Tropical Depression 12 is over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C, the upper level environment is marginal for intensification.  An upper level low near southwest of the depression is generating southerly upper level winds over the western part of TD12.  A small upper level high is over the eastern part of TD12.  The upper level high is generating some divergence to the east of the depression.  Some further intensification is possible and the depression could become Tropical Storm Kate on Monday.

Tropical Depression 12 could bring rain and squally weather to parts of the Bahamas.  It is near some of the same places that were hit by Hurricane Joaquin last month and it could hinder recovery efforts.

Erika Bringing Heavy Rain to the Northeastern Caribbean

Although it is not very well organized, Tropical Storm Erika brought heavy rains to parts of the northeastern Caribbean Sea on Thursday and it caused flooding on Dominica.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located at latitude 16.6°N and longitude 65.3°W which put it about 135 miles (215 km) south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico and about 1145 miles (1850 km) east-southeast of Miami, Florida.  Erika was moving toward the west at 17 m.p.h. (28 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (70 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1008 mb.  Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, the coast of the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to the border with Haiti, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the Central Bahamas and the coast of the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Punta Palenque.

The circulation around Tropical Storm Erika is poorly organized to due persistent upper level winds from the west which are causing vertical wind shear.  The low level circulation consists of a large diffuse center with at least once smaller mesoscale center rotating around inside the larger diffuse center.  The mesoscale center could have been produced by one of the thunderstorm clusters that form nightly in the southeastern portion of the circulation.  Again on Thursday the strongest thunderstorms occurred east of the center of circulation.  Those thunderstorms produced a lot of upper level divergence but the upper level westerly winds pushed that divergence east of the low level center.  As a result, the surface pressure actually rose a couple of millibars on Thursday.  Stronger thunderstorms are forming southeast of the center of Erika again tonight.  So, the pattern of the past several nights appears to be repeating itself again.

An upper level trough over the western Caribbean Sea is causing the westerly winds that are the source of vertical wind shear over Erika.  That trough is expected to drift west and slowly weaken.  If it does weaken in a couple of days, then the upper level wind pattern could be more favorable for intensification.  However, the center of Erika could pass over or very near Hispaniola.  It is likely that the mountains on that island would significantly disrupt the low level circulation.  If the low level circulation maintains its integrity, the Sea Surface Temperatures around the Bahamas and south Florida are very warm.  If Erika still has a coherent circulation at that time it could organize quickly.

A subtropical ridge is steering Erika toward the west.  Erika is nearing the western end of the ridge and a turn toward the west-northwest is possible.  If Erika gets stronger and the circulation is taller, then the upper level trough could push it more toward the north.  On the other hand, if the circulation of Erika stays weaker and shorter, then lower level flow could push it farther west.  Erika is likely to pass near or over Hispaniola on Friday and on its anticipated track it could be approaching south Florida in about 72 hours.

Even if Erika is a disorganized tropical storm it is capable of producing heavy rains and flooding on any island it crosses.

Tropical Storm Erika Approaches the Leeward Islands

Tropical Storm Erika moved steadily toward the Leeward Islands on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located at latitude 16.7°N and longitude 60.2°W which put it about 110 miles (175 km) east-southeast of Antigua and about 1400 miles east-southeast of Miami, Florida.  Erika was moving toward the west at 16 m.p.h. (26 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (70 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 1006 mb.  Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for the coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, and Guadeloupe.

Although Erika looks very impressive on infrared satellite images with a large area of cold cloud tops, it is in reality very poorly organized.  The thunderstorms generating those cold clouds are located southeast of the low level center of circulation.  There are not really any thunderstorms in other parts of Erika.  There could be a mid-level center of circulation within the cluster of thunderstorms southeast of the surface center.  Well organized tropical cyclones are vertically stacked with the mid-level center directly above the surface center.  This is certainly not the case with Erika.  Upper level winds from the west appear to be causing vertical wind shear over Erika and that is contributing to the poor organization.

Erika is moving over water where the Sea Surface temperature is almost 29°C.  So, there is sufficient energy in the upper ocean to support intensification.  However, an upper level trough over the central Caribbean Sea could continue to cause wind shear over Erika.  The intensity guidance is inconsistent.  Some guidance strengthens Erika to a hurricane during the next few days, while other guidance weakens it.  Until the circulation become more well organized and thunderstorms develop near the center of circulation, significant intensification is unlikely.  If the vertical wind shear gets any stronger it could weaken Erika to a tropical depression.

The track forecast is also challenging.  The numerical guidance shifted the track toward the east on Wednesday evening, but that was due to the fact that the models were predicting that Erika would become a stronger hurricane.  If it become a stronger storm with a taller, vertically coherent circulation, then the upper trough over the Caribbean could push Erika farther east.  However, if Erika remains weaker, then the winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere could push it farther to the west.  On its anticipated track Erika could approach southeastern Florida in about four days.