Fast-forming Hurricane Irma could be Cat 3 storm by Thursday night – Miami Herald
Tropical Storm Irma jumped to a strong Cat 2 hurricane Thursday morning as it continued to rapidly gain power.
After intensifying overnight, Irma quickly strengthened through the morning in the east Atlantic and could become a major Cat 3 storm as early as tonight, National Hurricane Center forecasters said. While it remains far from the Florida coast in the east Atlantic, forecasters warned the storm has the potential to continue intensifying into an “extremely dangerous” hurricane with winds of 130 mph as it crosses warm tropical waters and encounters weak wind shear.
In their 11 a.m. advisory, forecasters said sustained winds reached 100 mph as the storm moved west, northwest at 10 mph. It remained in the far east Atlantic, about 1,800 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
National Hurricane Center
Irma was able to quickly power up as it lingered over warmer waters and avoided dry air to the north, forecasters said. It’s expected to move over cooler waters Friday and encounter more dry air, which may allow its rapid intensification to level off. But in the next few days, it will be moving again over warmer waters with weak wind shear, allowing it continue regaining power.
Irma has started turning to the west, northwest, a direction that should continue for the next day. A high pressure ridge should also should also force the hurricane to turn west by the weekend, and then take a southwest track early next week. In the short range, forecasters expect the track direction to continue but say the long range track is less certain.
Over the next two days, winds could reach 120 mph, making it a Cat 3. At five days, it could become a more fierce Cat 4.
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