Here are reports on Hurricane Irma, now called the second largest Atlantic storm in history, courtesy of the morning FiveThirtyEight Significant Digits email.
185 miles per hour
Sustained wind speeds of Hurricane Irma as of 2 p.m. Tuesday. Only one other Atlantic hurricane has ever been measured to have faster winds. No matter where Irma lands, it’s going to be dangerous. [Ars Technica]
Ars Technica reports the modeled tracks for where Irma will hit the US.
Unfortunately, the forecast for Irma remains grim. The official forecast calls for Irma to bring catastrophic winds and potential storm surges to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and the UK territory of Turks and Caicos this week. Then the forecast brings the storm to the Florida Keys as a major hurricane by late Saturday night or Sunday.
There remains a fair amount of spread in the model forecasts at that point. Irma’s intensity as it approaches Florida will depend considerably on whether the hurricane spends a lot of time over Cuba or if its center remains north of the island as it approaches the Straits of Florida.
What seems clear at this point is that a major wind and storm surge threat exists for Florida and the southeastern United States this weekend. While there is no certainty, clearly Irma has the potential to be a deadly and destructive hurricane. Whereas the majority of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August was the result of inland flooding, Irma at this time has a much larger field of hurricane-force winds. Its primary threats will therefore be winds and storm surge.