"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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Sweet Cheeks's picture

You weren't a victim of Harvey were you? And you didn't volunteer for any of the rescue efforts, did you? Nor did have to leave your home to the rising waters, did you?

brazilian's picture

Tough shit for those that did. Who told them to work for the oil industry?!

dlweld's picture

Yeah, sure a lot of folks around (and we see them here) who think everything is a TV show - ie no real people being affected, just a show that we can all enjoy safely and comfortably ensconced behind the screen.

gilhgvc's picture

correctr, mainly because I wasn't stupid enough to LIVE THERE

pizdowitz's picture

Miami and Bahamas. Enjoy.

ssgredux's picture

I'm in southern Florida now - porn me with the doom!

Dratpmurt's picture

My hurricane scale goes to 11.

Dumpster Elite's picture

Who downvotes a Spinal Tap reference??? What an asshole!

ssgredux's picture

Probably some moozie.  Otherwise, it'd be pure sacrilege.  I said 180 inches/hr winds, NOT MILES/HR!

brazilian's picture

May Irma give Miami the same treatment that Harvey gave Houston!!!  More power to her!

Non-Corporate Entity's picture

Why is everyone acting like hurricanes are something new!???! I believe it's because we have a new generation of folks who grew up indoors, in controlled climates, watching disaster movies and playing video games.

Dumpster Elite's picture

These things just didn't ever happen until Al Gore single-handedly figured out that YOU are the reason that they are happening ALL THE TIME now. If everyone would just CEASE all CO2-generating activities, this thing would just wind itself out into a late-summer breeze.

bardot63's picture

Sell your 6 cylinder auto and it all goes away.

brazilian's picture

Boy did you get it right.  Do you believe any of those idiots know how to light a campfire or set up a tent?  Take away their video games and they are helpless.

altairmorbius's picture

Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are Democrat strongholds. Move back to New York from whence you came Yankee Scum!!!

Lumberjack's picture

Almost a cat 6 now:

Ryan Maue
Ryan Maue @RyanMaue
Hurricane #Irma is still intensifying. Now up to 155-knots (180 mph)
Extrapolating Saffir-Simpson scale, 158-knots would be Category 6.

Anteater's picture

Such drama queens. The Western Pacific gets Cat 5s all the time.

There is no Cat 6, no Cat 5++ (and no '100++KT DPRK H-Bmob').

 Irma is passing by islands that will see 50 knot winds and 10

inches of rain. Nothing. Hopefully it will disintegrate over Gitmo.

Hopefully it spawns F6 tornadoes over Mar-a-Lago, for the perfidy

of sending 850,000 landed American Christians to their deaths.

Sir Lars's picture

How does Trump's load taste? I bet like an orange dreamsicle sliding down your willing gullible gullet.  

NEOSERF's picture

Like a sustained tornado sitting on your house...don't know about you but my house wouldn't last long in 180mph winds..

While the F-scale goes from F0 to F12 in theory, the EF-scale is capped at EF5, which is defined as "winds ?200 mph (320 km/h)". In the United States, the Enhanced Fujita scale went into effect on February 2, 2007 for tornado damage assessments and the Fujita scale is no longer used.



Duc888's picture



I notice a lot of the mid to high end homes built in the carribean have concrete walls 2 FT thick.  Makes sense now.

Solio's picture

Does anyone think that nano-particles of the heavies over #92 have any affect on this storm system?

FDNPP stuff.

Anteater's picture

It's Magic CO2, punishing Americans, first in the oil heartland,

then in their 'Winter White House' (a Bolshevik term) for a

President and people who refused to honor Al Gore's Second

Try as a distinguished climate scientist and mathematician,

entirely self-taut, like Jesus, or Gandhi! Magic CO2 does Gore's

bidding, the way Moses parted the waves, the way Bolsheviks

brought down 3 Towers with 2 Planes. Greater love hath no 

0.00040 parts of atmosphere than Magic CO2. Now buckle up!

Make sure to check [ × ] flood damage on your claim to FEMA!

OutaTime43's picture

Wow. And its a small , round tight hurricane. Which means that the surface winds are closer to the flight altitude winds with a slip ratio of around 0.89.   Surface winds would be closer to  160 mph on the eastern side.  That's Hurricane Andrew bad.

DjangoCat's picture

Small round and tight is good for me.  I am hoping it goes a bit more north.

NEOSERF's picture

Looks like Federal disaster spending has run at $4B for ten years ending 2014....Houston and Miami wiped out this year and LA burning should run it over $100B this year...





LotUnsold's picture

Please don't give any money to the Clinton Foundation for this; you'll get six houses, all on Pedo Island.

Dratpmurt's picture

Science is fake, Trump has a brain....Blah blah blah

Dilluminati's picture

If the winds are truly at that speed, then that is off the scale.  I built in 2006, my own design, and never intended to sell.  With the exception of poured concrete construction I doubt that there is a code that meets that.  If it really is that effing big of a storm coming your way, you want to get out of the way.  Fortune favors the prepared.  As a prepper sometimes you have to know when to GTFO of the way of harm.  But if truly 180 mph, then you have exceeded hurricane zone construction requirements, you might think you have a home rated on pillings and such, but once that first piece comes loose your fucked.

BustainMovealota's picture

If it hits, Irma might do a lot of improvements to Miami.

Tiwin's picture

current forecast has Irma as a 145mph cat 4 at landfall, 30 miles over land at closest approach to Miami, 25 miles away so theyll likely only get (heh...'only') upper cat 2 or lower cat3 winds.

They dont stay 5s for long folks.

with an average error of 225 miles on 5 day forecasts.

If it would just be 20 more miles westward, it would be about the perfect place to strike Florida, sorry Arcadia and Labelle. But un inhabited or sparsely inhabited along the first 80 or 100 miles inland at 12 mph for 8 hours and it should be down to a cat1 or 2 by the time it hits cities.

brazilian's picture

Of course climate change is a hoax only for scum like those that work for the oil industry. May nature give them payback. 

smacker's picture

Not sure employees of Petrobrás would agree with you calling them scum.

Nor "what's left" of government in Brazil for economic reasons!

Catahoula's picture

Gartman states Irma will be a non-event. Rest easy all

iamrefreshed's picture

Bigly, Yuge Irma!!!

HumanMan's picture

So what's stopping us from dropping a moab in the eye wall while it's still out at sea? What do we have to lose if it doesn't work?

brazilian's picture

Wait to do that until it is right over Miami's downtown.

Tiwin's picture

brazilian , have you ever BEEN to Miami?

As American cities go its above average.Could we say the same for Sao Paulo?

Wahooo's picture

I suppose that depends on where it explodes, since part of the power of a hurricane derives from water temperature.

Anteater's picture

You would never find a C-131 flight crew brave enough to save

Americans, when they can just sit back and wait for the massive

OT-pay military rescue callup. There's gonna be another overrun

on the Pentagon budget, and maybe Al Gore gets his sainthood!!

No, my friend, many good reasons to not stop Irma. Disaster porn!

iamrefreshed's picture

About $16M or a year of Michelle Obama lip waxings.

gilhgvc's picture

thanks a hell of alot, now I have to go back to therapy to get THAT visual out of my head....

Kickaha's picture

While we're at it, lets drop a toothpick in front of the storm surge.


dlweld's picture

Well, each day a hurricane releases energy equivalent to 400 20 megaton hydrogen bombs, so a non-nuclear moab is pretty durn puny in comparison - ie 11 tons TNT to 8,000,000,000 tons TNT so...

Piranha's picture

good thing US has best response available - call in the Clintons

HominyTwin's picture

This is because of Russian hackers. OOPS! I mean, global warming. It's because of global warming. Sorry.

dlweld's picture

Yeah, this global warming thing is sure the most realistic hoax I've seen in a long time. How do they do it?

AwkwardReader's picture

Get lost fruit loop. You and your pals are peddling that shit at the wrong address.

Tiwin's picture

Easy peasy DL....they live by the saying "you can never go broke underestimating the stupidity of the publc" then they feed you a constant diet of propaganda television and fake news , and mostly end up with a crop of dumbasses LIKE YOU.

that is how they do it. 

We are 20 years into the Globohoax. Sea level has NOT risen a micrometer. Miami and Tampa should already be under water. How do you explain that?

Thought so