Tag Archives: Virgin Islands

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.

Tropical Storm Erika Prompts Warnings for the Caribbean

The imminent approach of Tropical Storm Erika prompted the issuance of watches and warnings for locations in the northeastern Caribbean Sea.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located at latitude 16.0°N and longitude 54.4°W which put it about 495 miles (800 km) east of Antigua and about 1780 miles (2870 km) east-southeast of Miami, Florida.  Erika was moving toward the west at 18 m.p.h. (30 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.  Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten.  Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.

For much of Monday the circulation around Tropical Storm Erika consisted of a large swirl of low level clouds and a few thunderstorms well to the southeast of the center.  The minimum surface pressure rose several millibars which was indicative of a weakening storm.  In the past several hours satellite imagery suggests that a few new thunderstorms could be forming closer to the center of circulation.  Erika is moving over water where the Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is between 28°C and 29°C.  So there is plenty of energy in the upper ocean.  The circulation could be pulling in some drier air from farther north of the storm.  There is also some vertical wind shear which may also be inhibiting intensification.    The combination of positive environmental factors like SST and negative environmental factors like drier air and wind shear make the intensity forecast challenging.  Guidance from numerical models is divergent.  Some models predict intensification while others predict that Erika will dissipate like Danny did.  If more thunderstorms continue to develop around the center of circulation, then intensification would be more likely.  On the other hand, if the recently formed thunderstorms dissipate in a few hours, the Erika could weaken to a tropical depression.

A subtropical ridge is steering Erika a little north of due west and that general motion is expected to continue during the next several days.  On its anticipated track Erika would approach the northern Leeward Islands in about 24 hours and it could be near Puerto Rico in less than two days.