PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Hurricane Irma continues to tear through the Caribbean, leaving death and destruction in its wake, and the latest forecast path of the storm means dangerous news for the state of Florida.
Irma has maintained Category 5 strength for more consecutive hours than any storm on record, and it’s still going. The intensity should drop some as Irma encounters an area of less favorable conditions in the southern Bahamas, but confidence is growing that this storm will make landfall over the weekend along the Florida coastline, with potentially devastating impacts felt throughout the entire state. Coming on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which was a Category 4 hurricane upon landfall near Port Aransas, TX, this storm could mean back-to-back major hurricane landfalls in the U.S. Prior to Harvey, it has been 12 years since a major hurricane made landfall in the United States, and the last time we had back-to-back major hurricane landfalls was in 2004 with Ivan and Jeanne.
If the current track holds and Irma makes landfall around the southern tip of Florida, cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale would be in the most dangerous area of the storm with regard to storm surge flooding. Timing will be important as well – if Irma were to hit Sunday around the high tide (roughly midnight and noon), storm surge flooding in Miami and all of southeastern Florida will be even more widespread. The storm is likely to produce hurricane force winds throughout all of south Florida, leading to building damage and loss of power. It’s important to note that the cone of concern still encompasses the entire state, and impacts from this large storm will be felt far from the storm’s center.
In our area, remnant moisture from Irma will weaken before lifting up the east coast, so we may feel the impacts in the form of rain, likely late Tuesday into Wednesday. No direct impacts are expected.