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Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida

Rob Sharpe, Sunday September 10, 2017 - 13:04 EST

Hurricane Irma has already caused destruction in a string of Atlantic Islands, with Florida next in its path.

Irma has reached category 5 hurricane status multiple times on its westward journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Each time it has affected large Islands it has weakened, before re-strengthening over the very warm waters that are generally at or above 30 degrees celsius.

The system has most recently left Cuba as a category three system and is starting to track in a more north-northwest direction towards southern Florida. It is forecast to attain category 4 status before making landfall on the western side of the state.

As the system approaches Florida, unstable tropical air is leading to squally thunderstorms. Some of these storms have produced tornadoes, whipping up powerful winds for local areas. However these are just a taste of what is to come in this event.

The system will bring all of the usual dangers associated with large hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones. This time around the worst impacts are likely to come from storm surges about the southwestern coastline of Florida. Storm surges will be quite different along the coast, but could be as high as 10-15 feet. The powerful wind strengths will also cause immense destruction near the core of the system.

The key locations that could be affected include Florida Keys, Naples, Ft Myers, Miami and Tampa Bay. Huge numbers of people have already been evacuated as the system starts to influence the nation.

Unlike the slow-moving Hurricane Harvey which drenched Texas two weeks ago, this system will be fast moving and therefore rainfall totals will be substantially less, yet still significant.

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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