FLORIDA, United States, Sunday September 3, 2017 – Hurricane Irma continues to fluctuate in intensity, but still remains a powerful hurricane that is currently forecast to move close to the northern Leeward Islands by the middle of this week, and then near or north of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas late in the week into next weekend.
In its 11 a.m. update, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said Irma remained a Category 3 hurricane, carrying maximum sustained winds near 115 miles per hour. At that time it was about 885 miles east of the Leeward Islands and moving towards the west southwest near 14 miles per hour.
“This course at a slightly slower forward speed is expected through tonight. A turn toward the west is forecast on Monday…Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” the NHC said.
“Interests in the Leeward Islands should monitor the progress of Irma. Hurricane and tropical storm watches will likely be required for portions of these islands later today or tonight.”
Forecasters say Irma is expected to make its closest pass to the Lesser Antilles late Tuesday through Wednesday and could be a Category 4 hurricane at that time.
According to the Weather Channel, direct impacts to the Lesser Antilles are more likely to be in the northern Leewards from Guadeloupe northward, but this could change in the coming days.
“For now, residents of the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands should follow the progress of Irma closely and make preparations for potential impacts from Irma,” it said.
“A direct Irma impact is not a foregone conclusion, but chances of impacts in the islands are increasing. The possibilities range from a direct raking of some of the Leeward Islands to the hurricane passing far enough north to only deliver periphery impacts such as high surf, gusty winds and rain bands.”
Irma could then pass near or north of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas late this week into next weekend, it added, but what the impact will be will depend on how close the center of Irma passes in relation to those islands.
Meantime, a tropical wave located several hundred miles southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands is producing an area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms.
The NHC said environmental conditions are conducive for gradual development during the next few days, and a tropical depression could form by the end of the week while the system moves westward to west-northwestward at about 10 mph over the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
There’s a 60 per cent chance of formation through the next five days.