"Monster" Irma Is Now The Strongest Atlantic Hurricane On Record As Florida Preps For "Catastrophe"

Tyler Durden's picture

Update 3: The Irma hits just keep on coming, with the NHC Atlantic Ops twitter page reporting that as of this moment, Irma is now the stronger hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in NHC records. “Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area,” the NHC said.

Taking things to the next level, literally, meteorologist Eric Holthaus writes that Hurricane Irma is now expected to *exceed* the theoretical maximum intensity for a storm in its environment, or as he puts it "Redefining the rules."

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello urged the 3.4 million residents of the U.S. territory to seek refuge in one of 460 hurricane shelters before the storm is expected to hit as early as Tuesday night. “This is something without precedent,” Rossello told a news conference. He will ask U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a federal state of emergency even before the storm passes to allow disbursement of U.S. emergency funds.

Gary Randall, head of the Blue Waters Resort on Antigua’s north coast, said the staff had boarded up windows, stripped trees of coconuts and fronds and secured anything that could become a hazard. “I wasn’t that nervous yesterday, but today I‘m nervous,” Randall said by telephone, adding that he expected the hotel’s beach to be swept away and much of the 108-room property to be flooded.

According to Bloomberg, Irma’s current path - headed straight for Florida - has prompted the state to prepare for the "catastrophic" system.

Unlike Harvey, which caused widespread damage, power outages and flooding and taking almost a fifth of U.S. oil refining capacity offline, Irma is a bigger threat to agriculture, with orange juice futures surging.

Airlines have canceled flights across the Caribbean and are adding planes to evacuate tourists, while cruise-line stocks have tumbled.

A strike on Florida would be the first time since 1964 that the U.S. was hit by back-to-back storms of Category 3 or more and only the second time since 1851, Henson said. Irma is now among the 7 most powerful storms on record to cross the Atlantic.


“Our biggest concern is Florida citrus,” said Joel Widenor, co-founder of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. “There is big enough fruit on the trees that the fruit could drop off, it could literally get blown off. The bigger issue is tree damage that is a lot harder to recover from.”

Some more facts: Florida is the world’s largest producer of orange juice after Brazil. About two-thirds of the state’s citrus crop is located in the lower two-thirds of the peninsula. Orange juice for November delivery jumped as much as 6.9 percent to $1.4595 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. Tuesday, the biggest intraday gain for the contract since Jan. 28, 2016. Cotton for December delivery jumped by the 3-cent exchange limit, or 4.2 percent, to 74.88 cents a pound. Aggregate trading for both commodities for this time doubled compared with the 100-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week,” the National Hurricane Center said after Governor Rick Scott declared an emergency.

There is still hope that a direct hit will be avoided: "The expected path has shifted considerably west over the last two days and can still change over the next two," said Olivier Jakob, founder of energy consultant Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland. “We cannot yet rule out a move further west with a Louisiana risk.”

Irma’s track could shift as it nears Cuba and Florida, according to Bob Henson, a meteorologist with Weather Underground in Boulder, Colorado. One possibility is a turn to the north that would take the storm up the Florida peninsula.


“It is four to five days away,” Henson said. “In hurricane-land that is a pretty long time span.”

Beyond the threat to people and property in the Caribbean, the focus for now is on agriculture, Jakob said. Irma is leading traders to be “long orange Juice futures rather than gasoline futures," he said.

Only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the contiguous 48 U.S. states, Henson told Bloomberg. The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 that devastated the Florida Keys, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Andrew that cut across Florida in 1992. Andrew was originally classified as a Category 4 storm only to be upgraded years later after further analysis.

“It is obviously a rare breed,” Henson said. “We are in rare territory.”

* * *

Update 2: While few are willing to admit it yet, according to meteorologist Ryan Maye, Hurricane Irma is still intensifying, with winds up to 155-knots (180 mph) and that extrapolating Saffir-Simpson scale, 158-knots would be Category 6.

* * *

Update: Irma has been upgraded from a Cat 5+ Hurricane to "Potentially Catastrophic" Cat 5++ storm, with winds now near 180 mph gusting to 220 mph, still moving due west at 14 mph.

Here is the latest NHC update:

At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 16.8 North, longitude 58.4 West. Irma is moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest tonight. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma is forecast to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands tonight and early Wednesday.


Reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds are near 180 mph (285 km/h) with higher gusts.  Irma is a an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.


Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km).


The latest minimum central pressure reported by reconnaissance aircraft is 931 mb (27.50 inches).

* * *

Irma has strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said in its advisory at 7:45am AST. According to the Hurricane center, NOAA and Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft data indicate Hurricane Irma has intensified into an "extremely dangerous" Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with maximum winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher gusts.

As of this moment, the hurricane is located 270 miles east of Antigua, moving west at 14 mph. States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of Florida while people on various Caribbean islands boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations. This morning the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane Watch from Cabo Engano to northern border with Haiti; Tropical Storm Watch from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona.

According to meteorologists, Irma is the 17th hurricane in the Atlantic on record to have max winds >= 175 mph. Atlantic max wind record is Allen (1980) at 190 mph.

Ultimately, the question is how strong Irma will be when it inevitably makes landfall on the Eastern Seaboard, somewhere in the vicinity of Miami.

Meanwhile, officials across the northeastern Caribbean canceled airline flights, shuttered schools and urged people to hunker down indoors as Hurricane Irma barreled toward the region, now as an "extremely powerful" Category 5 storm. Irma's maximum sustained winds increased to near 175 mph early Tuesday.

According to AP, emergency officials warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm drew closer.

"We're looking at Irma as a very significant event," Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, said by phone. "I can't recall a tropical cone developing that rapidly into a major hurricane prior to arriving in the central Caribbean." 

U.S. residents were urged to monitor the storm's progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. "This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey," Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

In the Caribbean, the director of Puerto Rico's power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas of the U.S. territory without electricity for four to six months. But "some areas will have power (back) in less than a week," Ricardo Ramos told radio station Notiuno 630 AM.

The power company's system has deteriorated greatly amid Puerto Rico's decade-long recession, and the territory experienced an islandwide outage last year. Meanwhile, the governor of the British Virgin Islands urged people on Anegada island to leave if they could, noting that Irma's eye was expected to pass 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the capital of Road Town.

"This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane," U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp warned. "It's not time to get on a surfboard."

Antigua and Anguilla shuttered schools Monday, and government office closures were expected to follow. On the tiny island of Barbuda, hotel manager Andrea Christian closed the Palm Tree Guest House. She said she was not afraid even though it would be her first time facing a storm of that magnitude.

"We can't do anything about it," Christian said by phone, adding that she had stocked up on food and water. "We just have to wait it out."

Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands expected 4 inches to 8 inches (10-20 centimeters) of rain and winds of 40-50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard, canceled classes for Tuesday and declared a half-day of work. He also warned of flooding and power outages. "It's no secret that the infrastructure of the Puerto Rico Power Authority is deteriorated," Rossello said.

Meteorologist Roberto Garcia warned that Puerto Rico could experience hurricane-like conditions in the next 48 hours should the storm's path shift. "Any deviation, which is still possible, could bring even more severe conditions to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands," Garcia said. The U.S. Virgin Islands said the school year would open Friday instead of Tuesday.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp said most hotels in the U.S. territory were at capacity with some 5,000 tourists. He noted the storm was expected to pass 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of St. Thomas and warned that the island could experience sustained winds as high as 80 mph

"It's not a lot of distance," he said, adding: "It could affect us in a tremendous way. I'm not saying that to alarm anyone or scare anyone, but I want the Virgin Islands to be prepared."

Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm's progress due to the possibility it could turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. "This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey," Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

In Miami-Dade County, the early scramble was on to stock up on hurricane supplies, reports CBS Miami. People were shopping for gasoline, generators, food, batteries, and everything else they'd need get by were Irma to hit the region hard.

"We are not yet at the height of hurricane season and people have not taken steps to get prepared yet," Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Director Curt Sommerhoff said Monday. "We are encouraging them to take those steps today." Miami-Dade officials were to meet Tuesday to assess the danger.

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Chandos's picture

If Haiti is left unscathed this time, just imagine the number of Floridians asking for asylum there in the next few weeks!

I think we should help Haiti right away so they can face the sea of incoming refugees....lol

Seriouslythough, Florida will be in my prayers.

mtl4's picture

Yep, plenty of looters but also plenty of folks walking around with big dogs and heavily armed defending property (round the clock too)........hard to get water or fuel, folks bartering because no electricity hence no ATMs, etc.  Folks stuff was all over the streets and houses were reduced to rubble, only concrete was still standing.

Tiwin's picture

Naah...we will be okay, at least those of us not in the cesspoo....er...um...cities

Sugarcandy Mountain's picture

Insurance companies that don't want to pay out (you know, make good on their promises)? Say it ain't so.


DrLucindaX's picture

I recall a friend who sailed into some area of Florida a year after Andrew and they were still fixing things and had a long way to go. Nobody in the media talked abou tit. It was all forgotten. 

in-Credible Banker's picture

Andrew was truly incredible.  As a young staff accountant with Price Waterhouse I found myself working in Miami the week after the storm.  A few trees down and stuff on Brickell Ave but nothing serious.  My colleague and I decided - just for "fun" - to take a ride south to see the hurricane damage.  Suffice to say I've never seen anything like it.   No street signs.  All traffic lights gone.  Not a leaf on any tree.  People just destitute living outside.  Entire blocks of homes gone....nothing left but a concrete pad.  At one point we turned down a wrong road in our air conditioned rentalcar and white shorts and ties......hit the reverse IMMEDIATELY cuz the natives were coming for us.  They must have thought we were insurance adjustors....if it hits Miami at Andrew strength I cannot imagine the horror...   



mayhem_korner's picture

Andrew hit south FL as a Cat 5, which surprised the heck out of everyone because it was something like a Cat 2 that strengthened rapidly in the last 12-18 hours before landfall.  Andrew also spawned enumerable tornadoes.  Comparatively small footprint, but total destruction.  Camille in '69 was the only other Atlantic hurricane that hit as a Cat 5. 

Tiwin's picture

No No no NO!

Jeezhus look it up.On BOTH of your points.


mayhem_korner's picture

Please correct, then.  Just looked up - Andrew rapidly intensified before landfall, was a Cat 5, spawned 28 tornadoes, and was the only Cat 5 storm other than Camille (and possibly the 1935 FL keys hurricane). 

Let us know what your Alt-facts tell us, Jethro.

Tiwin's picture

My Alt-FACTS say Andrew was a 4 more than 30 hrs before Landfall, and a major  (cat3) for longer than that.

To say Miami only had 12 - 18 hrs warning is a bit off.

The other point , , The Labor Day storm,I see you found that out yourself.

Tornadoes, whick I was not addressing , yes lotsa tornadoes in landfalling systems.

And for the record , Jethro only made it to 5th grade whereas I can document proof I made it to 7th grade.

BarkingCat's picture

What added to Andrew's destruction was the subpar construction.

I remember reading stories about post storm inspections finding tons of code violations and talk of criminal charges against the building inspectors that signed off on the construction of the buildings.

One thing in particular I remember is that while the code calls for 3 nails to secure the wall studs at each end, only 1 was used.

Andrew also resulted in new additions to the building code. Hurricane straps being one.

Tiwin's picture

Another thing they should do, tho it would add to the cost of construction, is to use screws instead of nails. (or staples as Andrew exposed)At LEAST on the roof!

OverTheHedge's picture

I take it you are au fait with the story of the three little pigs? Why would you build your house out of sticks in hurricane alley?

Tiwin's picture

80 degrees in January

Relatively friendly police

NO state income tax


I think alligators are cute

no dindus for 20-30 miles

alligators like dindu meat

Paul Kersey's picture

Wall Street hitting new highs, but can the weakening, debt-serf Main Street economy take the additional financial devastation caused by two mega hurricanes? The greatest debtor nation in the history of the world will have to go far deeper into debt to rebuild Texas and Florida, while coming up with trillions of dollars more to keep funding Wall Streets false flag wars. Something has got to give.

robertocarlos's picture

Who the hell keeps lending you guys money?

BurningFuld's picture

Fake foreign entities. Any other questions? 

Creepy Lurker's picture

@robertocarlos, you've been reading here for over 7 years and haven't figured this out for yourself? Why do you suppose the US wrecks every 3rd world shithole that attempts to institute a gold standard? 

The bastards that own this country started really feeling thier oats when the timid and corrupt rulers of India went along with cracking down on gold. They want China next, so bad they can taste it. But China is a bit too big and a bit too recalcitrant. What do you suppose this crap with the Norks is all about?

Consuelo's picture



Minerals, coal, trade & development w/China, Russia and tag-along of various other nations in tow.   

In other words: We do not need you (U.S.) nor your $currency/FX markets to survive or even prosper.

Of course, those are fighting words...

Creepy Lurker's picture

Fighting words only if one fights the simple truth. All of that is is true and the military industrial financial complex doesn't like it one bit. (You may wish to re-read my post, Consuelo.)

I have had people argue with me that the US cannot be an empire because it does not expand it's physical territory and such expansion is required to fulfill the definition of empire.

But what is the definition of empire? Can economic hegemony not qualify? I would posit that it does, and having control of the reserve currency in a fiat system is key to that hegemony. Having a powerful and technologically advanced military as the backup for that reserve currency is also key.

Massive-scale war would wipe out TPTB as well as thier enemies. Don't you suppose they know that and find other means to enforce thier will? If the Cold War can be said to be war by economic means, can the same not be said of "regime change" proxy wars waged on every 3rd world country that makes noises about accepting gold as payment for resources?

Sector Catalyst's picture

Well said. I would argue though that the USSA does in fact pseudo-expand territorially via NATO.

Conscious Reviver's picture

Fed cutouts1 like "Brussels" and the Swiss National Bank.

1: cutout - an intermediary in a clandestine operation

Pausebreak's picture

Eclipses foretell coming calamities.  Many major events occurred after eclipses.  Xerxes crossing the Bosphorus Strait into Greece.  Cortez vs Aztecs.  Zulu vs British. 

Dsyno's picture

"Eclipses foretell coming calamities."

Considering there are 2-5 solar eclipses every year (yes look it up), you're not saying much.

booboo's picture

If I recall a major storm wiped out much of Xerxes structured crossing and he had the sea whipped as a result. Men and their ego's.

rbianco3's picture

The calamity needs to be the war on Jew parasites.

Time is running short for goy

justa minute's picture

be patient that will come God will not be mocked

Give Me Some Truth's picture

I would venture that the ultimate price tag of Irma and Harvey Relief could have paid for the beautiful wall with Mexico, and probably could have given us a beautiful wall with Canada too. 

Give Me Some Truth's picture

Mr. rbianco3, 

We have read your insightful posts with great interest. Would it be possible to meet with you in the near future?We have a friend, an excellent orator and an artist of some talent who happens to be a dynamic speaker. He is considering a career in politics. He is a vet and served as a corporal in the army in the last war. He will need grassroots supporters and people with similar views and convictions to help him reach the top levels of government and speak the truths that need to be spoken. Our movement needs people like you. Are you interested in serving your Fatherland, fighting those who would enslave us and keeping our nation pure? We look forward to hearing from you. - XX

DaveyJones's picture

how do you fix analog hurricanes with digital money?

The Blank Stare's picture

For some odd reason, Alaska is experiencing brown outs.

reader2010's picture

I vividly remember container ships littered the interstate in southern Massachusetts thanks to Andrew. 

DeadFred's picture

The lift on a roof in 145 mph wind is stronger than the lift on the wings of a 747. You don't have to worry about the shingles on your roof because it will pull the plywood out by the nails. I wonder how much construction could stand up to 220 mph? But the silver lining for the insurance company is that once the roof is off the driving rain will cause flood damage which isn't covered.

JRobby's picture

Specially designed and reinforced trusses bracketed down on to a double top plate or bolted into the concrete block structure. Screws not nails.

Buck Johnson's picture

Remember, it may be worse if it hits florida than Andrew.  One, there has been alot more build up of population since 1992.  Two, our economy is in the shit and most of these insurance companies will do everything they can to not pay more so than they did in Andrew.  Three, more people today than back then are living paycheck to paycheck and so there is no way they can afford to get themselves out of a situation.



atomic balm's picture

 the staff had boarded up windows, stripped trees of coconuts

Brown on outside, White on inside

Déjà view's picture

Andrew with rum await Irma at South Beach...

Proofreder's picture

Jose would like to cut in ...

Yog Soggoth's picture

And lose the best legal tax break in the USA? Hey Simon Black, better get on a plane.

buttmint's picture

...better yet---I think all ZHers would be in complete agreeement to annoint Hillary Clinton and her douche daughter to head up any and ALL DISASTER relief efforts!



vealparm's picture

If it hits Haiti the Clinton's can lead the relief effort for the.........poooooorrrr chilren's.

Johnny Debt's picture

This is the dumbest thing I read all day - Why would we do that - Shocking to see that 59 people upvoted this one - How is it that you were able to create that many bot accounts?

NAVIGATOR0832's picture

They wouldn't take it back!!!

charlewar's picture

Spain doesnt want Puerto Rico!

TheGardener's picture

Funny how those hurricanes hitting Florida strafe Cuba usually twice on their way in and out yet the poorly

maintained colonial houses there take their beating without  expensive insurance and only minor


How about settling those lands in those swamps of the Americas for good and do away with those most ridiculous

make shift houses ? Bricks and mortar for a start ?