Cancun, Q.R. — After Tropical Storm Francis then Tropical Depression Harvey during the month of August, Hurricane Irma is making her way across the Atlantic on the first day of September, but not toward Mexico.
Weather experts who are closely following Irma say that the storm, which is now a Category 3 hurricane, is heading west-northwest and if anything, may make contact with the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
As of Thursday afternoon, Irma strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane west of the Cabo Verde Islands. Irma became a tropical storm at midday on Wednesday, showing rapid advancement.
“There is the potential for Irma to ramp up to an even more powerful hurricane this weekend,” says AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski.
“While fluctuation in strength is likely, we expect Irma to become a Category 4 well before it reaches the Lesser Antilles,” Kottlowski said.
As of Friday morning, Irma was located about 1,700 miles (2,725 km) east of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). The storm will take about a week to make its trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the next five days, Irma will move westward, turn west-southwest, then west-northwest again on the south side of a ridge of high pressure called the Bermuda high, centered in the central Atlantic. They say that the possibilities of Irma’s path could be a direct hit of the Leeward Island or simply having her pass far enough north to deliver periphery impacts such as rain, wind and high surf.
They also say it’s far too soon to attempt to speculate if Irma poses any threat to the US since her path and expansiveness depend on numerous factors such as the timing, depth and location of a southward dip in the jet stream near the eastern United States.
For now, however, residents along the East Coast and Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of Irma. “All interests in the eastern Caribbean will need to monitor the progress of this evolving and dangerous hurricane,” Kottlowski added.