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Hurricane Irma on a destructive path towards Florida

Ben Domensino, Thursday September 7, 2017 - 11:14 EST

Hurricane Irma is producing a path of severe weather through the Caribbean islands this week as it approaches America's southeastern states.

At 5pm Atlantic Standard Time on Wednesday (7am today in eastern Australia), Category Five Hurricane Irma was located near Puerto Rico with one minute average wind speeds estimated to 295km/h near its core.

The system has already caused significant flooding and considerable wind damage on the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles, including Saint Martin and Barbuda

Hurricane Warnings were in place on Wednesday evening for a number of Islands near and west of Irma, including parts of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas. A Hurricane Watch was also issued for parts of Cuba.

Hurricane Irma is expected to maintain intensity as a category four or five system while moving in a west-northwest direction through the Caribbean Islands between now and Saturday local time.

On this path, Irma is predicted to cause a storm surge of up to 5-6 metres above the normal tide levels near and to the north of its core, very destructive wind gusts and up to half a metre of rain, which will causing flash flooding and landslides.

There is good consensus between international forecast models that Hurricane Irma will arrive near southern Florida on the weekend and then turn north.

While the forecast movement and strength of Irma is less certain beyond Saturday, landfall is possible anywhere between Florida and the Carolinas. Worryingly, a number of forecast models indicate that Irma could be a category four hurricane when it starts of affect Florida from the weekend, possibly stronger.

The last category five hurricane to make landfall in the United States was Hurricane Andrew back in 1992.

Irma is one of three hurricanes currently spinning in the Atlantic Basin, with Hurricane Katia located in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Jose sitting over the ocean about 1,500km to the east of Barbados.

Hurricane Katia is expected to make landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz as a category 1 hurricane or Tropical Storm.

Hurricane Jose will move towards the west northwest during the next few days and may affect to the hurricane-weary northern Leeward Islands this weekend. There is a chance that this system will hinder the region's recovery efforts following Irma.

The latest advisories and track maps for Hurricanes Irma, Katia and Jose are available on the NOAA National Hurricane Centre website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

- Weatherzone

© Weatherzone 2017

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