As the nation continues to focus on the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and other cities along the Texas Gulf Coast, Hurricane Irma continues its treacherous course through the Atlantic that could see it strike the East Coast as early as late next week.
“Irma is currently a small hurricane, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles,” the National Hurricane Center said Saturday. “However, the hurricane e is expected to grow in size during the next couple of days.”
The National Hurricane Center warned that the Lesser Antilles islands in the Caribbean would bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma early next week, which would bring “rough surf and dangerous currents” along with possible “dangerous wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts on some islands, although it is too soon to specify where and when those hazards could occur.”
However, meteorologists remain uncertain as to how the storm – which weakened to Category 2 overnight but is expected to pick up steam as it travels across warm waters – will impact the Bahamas and the continental United States.
“Regardless, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place, as we are now near the peak of the season,” the National Hurricane Center warned. The peak of hurricane season is September 10.
Most intensity models currently predict that Irma would be upgraded to a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane over the next five days, with winds gusting between 115 and 145 mph. Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm, with observed wind gusts reaching up to 132 mph, and dumped a historic amount of rainfall over the area before traveling northeast.