Hurricane Irma continues to amaze the world as the storm crosses the Caribbean with sustained winds of 185 mph Tuesday night. Gusts were measured as high as 220! Earlier in the day hurricane hunters entered the storm and shot this spectacular video. You get to see the stadium effect as the towering eyewall encircles the hunter plane.
Here's a couple other views of the stadium effect from within Irma's eyewall. Very few hurricane hunters have witnessed this perspective as only 4 other Atlantic storms have ever reached the 185 mph magnitude. Note the clear blue skies above the eye.
There are 3 planes flying into the center to gather information relating to intensity and movement.
In this image below you can see the flight path of the plane approaching the eye. It's constantly sending back wind measurements. You can see a color scale on the bottom equating wind speeds in knots. The 932 number represents the pressure in millibars.
Here's another stunning view of the concentric eyewall from the brand new GOES 16 satellite.
The big question going forward is not the intensity of the storm (it will be a major hurricane), it's the track. At some point the system will encounter a trough over the eastern U.S. and make a turn to the right. However, there is still not high confidence as to when that occurs. It could be east or west of Florida or right up the peninsula.
Here's the EURO EPS ensembles showing strong clustering for a landfall in Florida Sunday.
The GEFS ensembles are similar, maybe just a bit further east.
Most of the model intensity forecasts maintain Irma as a major category 4 storm as it threatens Florida this weekend.
The next 48 hours will be important as we get a better handle on the track and impact the hurricane will have on the mainland of the United States. Stay tuned!
By the way, I haven't said much about the weather around the Midwest because it pales in comparison to Irma. What I can tell you is that as Irma works its way into the upper air pattern of the continental U.S. it will block up the flow. A ridge will build over the Midwest that will keep it nice and quiet the next 7-10 days. Temperatures will also moderate by the weekend and some very pleasant September weather will be the end result.
It also seems certain the dry pattern that has prevailed since July (in some cases much longer than that) looks to continue unabated. The EURO has no rain for my local area over the next 10 days. If that holds we will be at 19 consecutive days with no rain. Since June 1st we are down 7" here in Cedar Rapids. The ground is hard!
That's all I've got for now. All eyes on Irma until further notice. Roll weather...TS