"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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Kprime's picture

add on an IRMA PENSION Enhancement TAX equal to one year of Illinois retirement payout.  This will bring billions back into the state coffers.

Kprime's picture

1/2 of them are .gov, 6 figure income, retirees from Illinois.  Send em back permanent.

Food Loaf Junkie's picture

Come on "up" to da U.P.  The motels and tourist traps would love the business during the after Labor day slump.  :)

Creepy Lurker's picture

Exactly why I love going up there in the fall. They are actually glad to see me. (Not to mention the bugs are gone.)

south40_dreams's picture

This sucker is going to 6

spanish inquisition's picture

Is it Jessica or OJ Simpson assisting with rating hurricanes?  Goes right to the credibility of the story depending on which one it is...

847328_3527's picture

"If the glub dont fit, must acquit!"


OJ's old now but perhaps he can still join BLM!

The Alarmist's picture

Why join BLM when he can found and chair WLDM?

Never One Roach's picture

The Clinton Foundation is looking for big strong men like OJ!

max_leering's picture

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrre's Irma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

virgilcaine's picture

Florida on full evacuation, don't become helpless like Houston. Remember, noone can help u during a hurricane, your  on your own as Harvey proved.

divingengineer's picture

And Sandy, and Katrina, and Andrew, and Ivan.....

detached.amusement's picture

and Erin...


oh wait, my bad, that one took a 90 degree turn and headed towards europe when they demo'd the twin towers

MaxThrust's picture

If CNN had their way this huricane would be named Vladimir.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Yep! In the 305.

I'm not going anywhere.

SuperRay's picture

Evacuation? Like they can just hop in a car and drive away? Evacuation is a fantasy. Reality is - you can't evacuate

robertocarlos's picture

They had a week, you could walk to Atlanta in a week.

Kidbuck's picture

The weather service and MSM have cried wolf to boost their ratings so many times in the last few years that people tend to discount their veracity and are now desensitized to this storm.

azusgm's picture

I sat at a desk in an office building in Florida adjusting additional living expense claims for Katrina when Wilma passed over us. I had warned one of the supervisors the previous day that we did not have our computers plugged into surge protectors. After the power started coming and going, we got the order to shut down the computers, unplug them, and go back to our hotels. The next morning, there were techies crawling around under our desks plugging in surge protectors.

I would not recommend staying in during this storm. It is probably time to get on the road already.

The latest maps on windytv.com show that little storm in the SW gulf staying in place, drawing wind energy from Irma, and not giving back. That little storm is drawing heat from the east coast of Mexico and depriving Irma of that important source of energy until Saturday. At that point, it finally makes landfall in southern Mexico and Irma has the available energy from the gulf and along the Mexican coast to herself.

If there is a town in Florida named Dodge, everyone needs to get out of it starting right now. They should not plan to stop until they are out of the SE US.

I still don't see why Irma would not stay a bit south and move farther to the west where there is more heat, but what do I know? I am not the weather babe.

silverer's picture

Are the surfers ready yet?

divingengineer's picture

Nuke it!!!!

Land Snark's picture

Looks like Irma's living up to the meaning of her name; Godess of War...yikes.

A. Boaty's picture

The meaning of the name Irma is Whole, Entire. The origin of the name Irma is German. This is the culture in which the name originated, or in the case of a word, the language.


No Irma war goddess.

bluez's picture

The whole entire Giant Turd Goddess. Turds deserve a Goddess too, you know.

ebear's picture

Irma la Douce....

Goddess of hookers;)

847328_3527's picture

.....order more sand bags, water filters, stock up...or evacuate!

rbianco3's picture

Sand bags won't help anything with direct Cat-5 hit. 

My Uncle has lived in S. Florida all his life- working in insurance- he bails the fuck out for Cat-5

Let the Jews stay and suffer Gods wrath- if they leave - rob them blind.

Cloud9.5's picture

This will be hurricane number 5 for me.  Here on the ridge flooding is generally not an issue.  Spin off tornados are the major concern.  Following that, the next big concern is how long will the grid be down?  We are fortunate in that we live on a line that services a major hospital.  They tend to get the power back up in 4 or 5 days.  Anybody who has been through this is already prepared.  The real pain in the butt is all the debris and taking care of the old people who are dependent on us.


My heart goes out to Huston.  I know what they are going through.  If it is our turn we will step up and take it.

man from glad's picture

Me too. When Francis and Jeanne hit we were without power for 8 days. We were already prepared but you are never prepared enough it seems. 

man from glad's picture

"the storm could dump up to 10" of rain"

Sounds low to me. More like 30" minimum

balz's picture

It depends how fast it moves. 10" is still a lot of rain.

Sugarcandy Mountain's picture

Rather depends on the elevation of your house.

NIRP Diggler's picture

Yes it is.  But, 10 inches was about what was coming down during the slack times here last weekend.  It rained 21.5 inches at my house last Sunday.

Swampster's picture

Based on your hydrological or meteorological background, or what?

man from glad's picture

Based on living in Florida for decades and experiencing 1/2 a dozen or so hurricanes. Not one has dumped 10" of rain. Shoot we'll get 5" with a bad thundersorm here.

robertocarlos's picture

It's going round and round. Obviously it can't hold any water due to the centrifugal forces.

Versengetorix's picture

No hurricans for 10 years - Global Warming!  Two big hurricanes in 1 year - Global Warming!  This is what's so great about the "Climate Change" theory - it covers everything.  Notre Dame wins opening football game of season - Global Warming!

lil dirtball's picture

"Climate change" is weather modification/manipulation/manufacture. "Climate change" is weaponized.

idontcare's picture

Okechobee, Palm Beach, and Martin counties have been bathed in those lovely "contrails" (cough, cough, er um, you know what I am alluding to) since the eclipse.  Co-ink-i-dink?

Proofreder's picture

Bullshit !!!

That is like saying there are no random events; we are all doomed.  No individual action.

Total Bullshit.

Sugarcandy Mountain's picture

Wow. Take a chill pill and stop putting words into my mouth.

Kind of ironic that your nick is "Proofreder". You might want to spellcheck that, moron.

1stepcloser's picture

Red President you get liberal amount of hurricanes

Blue President no Hurricanes.  Was pretty quiet with obummer in office.. 

Give Me Some Truth's picture

Re: No major hurricane in 10 years ...

Actually it was 12 years. And Harvey wasn't really a wind event. It was a massive flood event, caused by a confluence of meteorological (not climate) events. Basically, the rain stuck around in one place for a long time.

The law of averages says America was way overdue for at least one, or more, big hurricanes hitting our country.

Stats - or probabilities - are interesting. Just because a coin has ended up "heads" 10 times in a row doesn't mean the 11th toss will be heads. The odds are still 50-50. This said, I would bet on tails.

You mention football. I'm a big UA fan. I actually expected Bama to lose to Clemson last year. Not because I was sure Clemson was the better team, but simply because UA had won 8 consecutive games when a national title was at stake (national title games starting in 1978). The "law of averages" simply said Bama was due to lose one of these winner-take-all games. 

The "law of averages" simply says America is due for some big hurricane landfalls. Has nothing to do with man-made climate change. 

Sugarcandy Mountain's picture

Has nothing to do with man-made climate change.

How about man-made geoengineering? It's no secret that geoengineering has been going on for a long time already.

vietnamvet's picture

What, you are classifying sucking up energy from a 2 degree warmer Gulf as a meteorological event?  Hey dumbfuck - meterological refers to the atmosphere not the fucking ocean.

Give Me Some Truth's picture

Re: What caused Harvey.

I don't think I'm being an idiot or a dumb fuck when I say that hurricanes can go north, go south or just stay over the same area. I've been watching hurricanes for 40 years. Normally - as in almost always - they hit land and keep moving further inland. Usually they travel in a northeastly direction once they make landfall. Harvey - for reasons having to do with meteorological factors such as fronts, high pressure systems, wind currents in the atmosphere - essentially stayed where it was for several days. That is, this storm was the definition of an anomaly.

 All hurricanes suck up tons of water from the gulf or ocean and cause copious amounts of rainfall (if they remain storms and don't quickly disipate). The difference with Harvey is that this rainfall wasn't spread over 12 states. Since the storm stalled out right near the coast it was able to draw in more and more water from the Gulf. The torrential rainfall falling in one area had NOTHING to do with man-made global warming. If the hurricane had kept moving inland or north, Houston and nearby cities would have received a fraction of the rainfall they did. I don't think this is the comment of an "idiot" or dumbfuck. I think it's fact.

And this water that is allegedly two degrees warmer than (some point in the past) was also I guess two degrees warmer last year, the year before, going back 12 years. There was no biblical flood from any hurricane in any of the past 12 years. So: Man-made global warming DID cause a storm with major flooding this year, but did not in 2016-2004? There were some similar floods/storms in the area in 1900 and 1926 though. I guess global-warming caused those too. Anyway, I stand by my earlier post.

cheech_wizard's picture

Just a shame the guy that started this never kept it current...



Nona Yobiznes's picture

It's the theory you can just tack on evidence to, even if it contradicts what was purported just last year.