At 11 AM EDT, Hurricane Maria was located 320 miles east of Nassau, Bahamas, moving north-northwest at 8 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 115 mph. Maria is now a major hurricane as it bears down on the Leeward Islands
The current National Hurricane Center (NHC) 5-day forecast looks conservative, though they are likely waiting for the afternoon forecast models to update. The most recent ensemble models (from earlier this morning) have Maria going further west than a few days ago. This is because of the recent demise of Jose, which is allowing the ridge over the central Atlantic to build west. This will yield a track with a closer approach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A ridge extending the southeast U.S. will also retreat north. These factors will converge, leading to slower forward motion by mid-week. By midweek, a strong low pressure system is expected to build across the Plains. First, it will provide some relief to the above normal temps across the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, it will steer Maria away from the coast, ushering in its extratropical transition.
Regarding intensification, conditions remain moderately favorable with warm sea surface temps and generally favorable winds aloft. However, Maria will begin to encounter increasing vertical wind shear and cool sea surface temperature. Maria is expected to intensify through tomorrow with a gradual weakening trend forecast into next week.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
At 11:00 AM EDT, Hurricane Irma was located at 25.0°N 81.5°W, about 80 miles south-southeast of Naples, FL. Irma was moving north (350°) at 9 mph. Max sustained winds have dropped to 120 mph and the minimum central pressure in 933 mb (27.79 in Hg).
Before I start the forecast discussion, I’ll preface it with this…Right now, any changes in the forecast are not going to matter all that much. Just prepare for the worst and if it’s anything less, you’re lucky. Please remember that this storm is not just a line and impacts will span the state for Florida.
The 2nd landfall is expected to be near Sanibel Island on Sunday evening. The eye of the storm is expected to move up the west coast through the evening hours, finally exiting the state Monday afternoon.
The NHC has maintained their track, which is consistent with this afternoon’s forecast models. This is in line with the midday European model and between the recent GFS and NAM model runs. It is expected to move across the Tampa area as a Category 3 hurricane.
Rainfall totals across the swath covered by Irma are expected to be in the 10-15 inch range, with your obligatory isolated higher totals, approaching 20 inches.
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…
* South Santee River southward to Jupiter Inlet
* North Miami Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to the Ochlockonee River
* Florida Keys
* Tampa Bay
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to Indian Pass
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Cuban provinces of Matanzas and La Habana
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* North of Fernandina Beach to Edisto Beach
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* West of Indian Pass to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line
* North of Fernandina Beach to South Santee River
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Bimini and Grand Bahama
Points of Interest:
Tampa & Polk Co (Lakeland) – Conversely, the westerly shift in the track a lot of pressure to this area. A protracted amount of time with hurricane force winds, likely 95-105 mph. Surge also becomes an issue on the north side of Tampa Bay, and will be compounded by heavy rainfall.
Orlando – At this time, It is likely that the eye of Irma will pass west of this area. Winds are expected to be in excess of 70 mph at this time.
At 8 PM CDT, Hurricane Harvey was located at 27.9N 96.8W, about 35 miles E Corpus Christi, TX and 40 miles SW of Port O’Conner, TX. It is about 14 miles from the coast and moving NW at 8 mph and has max sustained winds of 130 mph with higher gusts. This is now a Category Four hurricane.
Sustained hurricane force winds are being reported along the Texas coast.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Port Mansfield, TX to Sargent, TX.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for north of Sargent, TX to High Island, TX.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Port Mansfield to High Island, TX. For the region within the Warning, surges in the 6-12 foot range are currently forecast.
Regarding landfall point, the forecast continues to between Corpus Christi and Matagorda but now for later tonight.
After that, things still/remain interesting with Harvey forecast to stall over the coastal Plains of Texas. The forecast models generally agree that Harvey will persist onshore 2-3 days before moving back offshore into the western Gulf Monday or Tuesday. Some reintensification is then the forecast as Harvey moves towards east Texas, or possibly Houston.
Right now, my Houston-centric rain forecast is…it’s raining.
Rainfall totals through Sunday are forecast to be in 9-12” rain across the Houston area with locally higher totals likely. Once Harvey moves back off the coast and approaches Houston, the region will get even more rain, which could push total storm totals into the 17-25” range. (As always, we include the obligatory “isolated higher totals are possible.”)
Finally, landfall storms, particularly to the right of eye will carry the risk of being tornadic, so remain storms away even away from the landfall point as storms will be severe with strong & gusty winds, heavy rainfall and a risk of tornadoes. A tornado watch is in effect for coastal Texas and southwest Louisiana through 2 AM CDT Saturday.
As has been seen through this whole process, things can (and likely will) change, particularly. These forecasts are made with the most up to date guidance and with my experience. I will try to update through the day as I can. I will be working from 12 – 10 PM CT today, so I will have my work obligations as well.