Hurricane Irma Could Slam Into United States As Category Five Storm


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Meet Irma. NASA/NOAA

Something wicked this way comes. It’s the peak of Atlantic hurricane season right now, and as a result, plenty of them are coming in pairs – and it appears Harvey was the first of two. Hiding in its shadow is Irma, a Category Three hurricane that’s set to transform into a Harvey-matching Category Four in the next 24 hours, and it’s heading for the United States.

According to cutting-edge modeling analyzed by American meteorologist Ryan Maue, it’s likely that the storm will continue to gather strength over the next week. “I’d be surprised if storm didn’t become Cat 5 during next 5-7 days,” he explained in a Twitter post.


However, it’s still early days, and at this point it’s not clear if Irma will become a genuine danger to the contiguous United States. Models clearly show a future “intense Irma,” Maue adds, “but no firm conclusion on US threat” can be made at present. Either way, it’s one to keep an eye on.


The latest estimates, which are still fairly hazy, suggest that the most likely place Irma will make landfall – if it does at all – will be Florida. So far, it’s heading right for it, but the chaotic nature of the paths of hurricanes means it could still curve away and head up the eastern seaboard and dissipate in the Atlantic Ocean.

Meet Irma, seen here heading westwards and gathering strength. NOAA

Already, some remarkable satellite imagery of Irma is making its way into the public domain. One such picture reveals that Irma is already so powerful that it’s able to suck up dust from the Sahara Desert without lifting a metaphorical finger. Normally, such quantities of sand inhibit a hurricane’s ability to form, but not Irma – she’s just getting stronger by the day.

Hurricane Harvey may be on its way out now, but this monster unleashed a record-breaking precipitation fury on Texas and parts of Louisiana over the past week – and this one-in-1,000 year event has left almost 1 million people without homes and the city of Houston will billions of dollars of reparations to undertake.


The last thing that part of America needs right now is another hurricane making landfall. Two meteorological gut punches would be enough to cripple the state of Texas, send Louisiana into a chaotic spiral, and trigger pandemonium in Florida.

Distressingly, even Irma is being shadowed by another tropical wave, one that will likely develop into a hurricane over the next fortnight.


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