Eight days ago, on 27 August 2017, just as we watched the catastrophe of Hurricane HARVEY unfolding in Texas, a strong tropical wave originally formed near the head of the Nile River in eastern Africa fed by moisture from the Indian Ocean, emerged over the waters of the East Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands already exhibiting cyclonic tendencies. At the time I submitted this particular system warranted our attention and close monitoring by all hurricane-vulnerable interests around the Atlantic basin.
As of today Monday 4 September 2017, LABOR DAY!, after having traveled more than 9,000 km this system is major Hurricane IRMA over the Central Atlantic moving toward the Lesser Antilles and possibly the USA coastal region.
Major Hurricane IRMA looks quiet organized this morning of Monday 4 September 2017, LABOR DAY!, with a distinct central eye, a round and symmetric shape, and dense bands of rain and thunderstorms.
The forecast track by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has shifted somewhat southward for the next 3 – 5 days bringing it closer to the Antilles. Florida remains within the ‘cone of uncertainty’ this far out, so this is the time to review your emergency plans. Regarding IRMA’s projected track over coming days it is important to note that there are other tracks developed by various agencies, which vary from that posted by the NHC. For example, the track projected by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory shows a more northerly route than that of the NHC, which shifts the cone of uncertainty more toward mainland Florida and our neck-of-the-woods here in southeastern Florida. This discrepancies between projected tracks illustrate the difficulty in predicting where a hurricane may actually go, and the fact that the longer the forecast goes into the future in term of how many days it covers the larger the uncertainty is.
The important thing is to be aware that hurricane forecasting is not an exact science, and despite all the satellite tools, hurricane hunter data provided by airplanes flying into and around the storm, and the years of experience and expertise of forecasters at the NHC, it is just not possible to exactly predict where a hurricane will make landfall. Consequently the best approach for those residing in vulnerable communities is to monitor the advisories regularly and closely, and to pay attention to instructions from local emergency management officials.
So, get ready. Be prepared. MITIGATE! Also, keep an eye on the strong tropical waves chasing after IRMA over the Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Africa and inland over Equatorial Africa. The entire system is loaded with ‘seeds’ for potential cyclonic activity.