Joe’s Weather Blog: Irma bears down on Florida (FRI-9/8)
Another beautiful afternoon in Kansas City and our great weather is in start contrast to the upcoming weekend in the “Sunshine” state. Obviously with our weather in the doldrums..Irma takes front and center stage for this blog once again. There are some interesting things happening within the storms structure and there have continued to be some model trends that need to be addressed. Regardless it’s a HUGE storm in size from end to end…that means the Florida Peninsula is going to get hammered overall…
Forecast for KC:
Tonight: Clear and cool with lows around 60°
Saturday>next Wednesday: Mostly sunny and pleasant with highs around 80-85°. Lows in the 50s to lower 60s.
Today is the 12th day straight with no rain in the KC area…none expected any time soon.
Here it is…it’s still a very large hurricane.
There have been some interesting things happening in the storm…it appeared that overnight through the 1st part of the day the storm was coming down a bit off it’s lofty levels. Remember a couple of days ago the winds were around 185 mph. What was surprising was that it maintained that extreme strength (175-185 mph) for a couple of days. Typically storms like these go through something called eye wall replacements. When this occurs an outer eyewall develops around the hurricane too and the inner eyewall dissipates. Often there is a reduction in the strongest winds…and we saw that for awhile this morning. Then as this new eyewall tightens back into the core of the hurricane…then winds tic back up again. We may be seeing that this afternoon as the 1PM advisory had winds back up to 155 MPH. This is 1 mph short of category 5 status again.
Latest information from reconnaissance aircraft show an eye about 40 miles from side to side. That’s a pretty big eye…and roughly the distance from Lawrence, KS to the Stadium complex in Kansas City.
Notice in the afternoon picture above…taken at 2:30 PM…the eye is is somewhat clouded over. There appear to be small vortices rotating within the eye of the hurricane…not uncommon is storms of this magnitude.
Recon also estimated the surface winds at 137 knots or about 157 mph…so there is room for another category upgrade shout the NHC decide to do so later today.
The latest track of the storm is about the same with some slight westwards adjustment.
It appears as if Marathon, FL will be very close to another landfall point before the storm. With that said, and with the storm so large in scale…a track really anywhere close to that and then into FL would bring the potential of 90-120 MPH winds through southern FL and 70-100 mph winds, in gusts, through central FL. Even northern FL may get 60-80 MPH wind gusts as the storm slowly weakens.
With that said…here is some data showing how the 74+ MPH winds are currently distributed…
So basically the northern half of the storm has 75+ MPH winds 120 miles across (in bands) while the southern half of the storm is roughly 90 miles across.
From Naples to Ft Lauderdale…it’s about 100 miles as the crow flies…
From Ft Myers to West Palm Beach: 111 miles
From St Petersburg to Vero Beach: 137 miles across
From Crystal River (West coast) to near just south of Daytona Beach: 105 miles across.
I bring all that up again because of the size of the storm…hence this model output.
There is some minor question about how strong it will be at landfall…but really 5-15 MPH wind changes really won’t matter than much in the scheme of things…but from a water standpoint…where Irma is now…and will be into the wekend…the waters are VERY warm.
So odds favor at least a mostly maintaining hurricane…with some room to strengthen.
This next map shows the strongest winds…now this is above the surface but it gives you a rough idea where the strongest winds will be as Irma comes ashore and moves north.
What a storm it is…and was…here are some updated records from Philip Klotzbach
There are folks comparing this storm to Andrew…the last Category 5 storm to hit southern FL…those winds from Irma were from yesterday but you get the idea.
Here is another way of looking at the 2 storms…
That is pretty amazing…
There are a ton of other factors involved with this likely landfalling hurricane that I really haven’t even touched on…and in reality may cause more damage than the winds in some parts of FL…especially along the coastline…and that would be storm surge coming in from the Ocean
This is not a good look…
Now a LOT of the territory in far SW Florida is VERY sparsely populated…
There may be somewhat of some good news that really isn’t getting mentioned very much and something that I just alluded too…with the center of the storm heading towards far SW FL…there isn’t that much of a population base there..notice how the coastal areas are the heaviest populated.
The Keys and from near Marco Island northward though are very vulnerable…then the heavily populated central FL region is a big issue as well.
That’s all for now…next blog update will be Saturday at around 3PM or so…
Also of note…I will be doing FB lives Saturday around 8:30 AM…then again at around 5PM…and another close to 9PM. Sunday FB lives will be at 9:30 or so…5PM and around 7:30PM. Follow/Like me at Joe Lauria Fox 4 Meteorologist and you may want to adjust your FB setting so that my posts appear at the top so you don’t miss out. I’ll try and answer as many questions as I can.