Irma Bashing West Coast Of Florida

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Hurricane Irma is moving north along the west coast of Florida. Graphic courtesy of NOAA.

Hurricane Irma has blasted through the Caribbean islands, hammered the Bahamas, landed an unexpectedly hard blow to Cuba, clobbered Key West, and has come ashore near Naples, Florida with a dangerous storm surge.

Irma Makes US Landfall For Second Time

Irma made landfall at 3:35 p.m. EDT on Marco Island near Naples, packing 120 mile per hour winds and pushing tides up to 15 feet above their normal level, inundating many communities. It was technically the storm’s second landfall, after one in the Keys.

Forecasting the storm surge is hard with the center of the storm so close to the coast. Winds ahead of the storm from the south drive water into south-facing harbors and beaches. Then, after the eye has passed, the wind shifts to west and drives water inland.

The combination of wind and storm surge can be lethal, leaving those in their path little time to react and nowhere to go. Hopefully, most of those who live in vulnerable areas have left.

Irma Heads North

At 5 p.m. EDT, the center of Irma was five miles north of Naples and thirty miles south of Fort Myers. Top winds are now 110 miles per hour and movement is north at 14 miles per hour. The winds will rapidly diminish due to interaction with land and vertical wind shear. However, the storm will still be strong enough to cause dangerous storm surge in the Tampa area.

After that, the primary concern will be flooding rain in north Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Though the wind will decrease, the moisture in the storm will be carried along. Hurricane Irma’s not done yet.

The next update will be after the release of the 5 a.m.EDT  advisory Monday morning.

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