Chances of Hurricane Irma making U.S. landfall increase

The current projected track of Hurricane Irma. (Photo: Riskpulse)

The current projected track of Hurricane Irma. (Photo: Riskpulse)

Florida region at greatest risk based on current track

Hurricane Irma intensified overnight and is now a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic on a possible course for the East Coast of the United States. According to Riskpulse, a supply chain risk analysis firm, interests along the East Coast, particularly Florida, should be closely monitoring the storm for potential impacts by this weekend.

“Later this week, Irma will approach if not make landfall in Cuba. The specific interaction with Cuba will determine if Irma maintains peak intensity or weakens some over the upcoming weekend. All in all, it is very likely that Irma will remain a major hurricane as it moves toward Florida during the next 5 days,” Riskpulse said in its latest Watchtower Alert.

As of 7 a.m. this morning, Irma is a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph and a central pressure of 929 mb moving to the west at 14 mph. Over the next five to six days, Riskpulse said, Irma will continue its westerly track, but a change to the north is expected to happen at some point. Depending on when that shift in director occurs will determine when and where Irma may strike the U.S.

“Once this important turn (currently in the Day 5-6 forecast) can be forecast with confidence, we will have a better understanding of exactly what impacts can be expected in what locations of the Southeast U.S.,” Riskpulse said. “Regardless of the exact track of Irma, these impacts appear likely to occur in the early to middle portions of next week.”

Irma is expected to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands, with hurricane warnings in effect for portions of the Leeward Islands. From there, Irma is expected to affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto beginning tomorrow.

As of now, Riskpulse assigns a 95% chance Irma will make landfall in the mainland U.S., with a 75-80% chance of that happening a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher). Beyond that, though, the timing of the northerly shift will determine the specific location, with still 50% chance Irma ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. Still, Florida remains the most likely spot for an Irma landfall.

“South Florida continues to be the center of our long term track but the precise location of landfall remains uncertain,” Riskpulse said. “With the westward shift, the Gulf Coast of Florida is seeing a higher risk compared to yesterday. Again, how far west the storm tracks comes down to the strengths of the ridge over the Atlantic Ocean and the trough over the eastern U.S., which are factors yet to be fully determined.”

Riskpulse has already advised its clients in areas that could be affected to begin making plans for the storm and is suggesting all trucking and shipping interests along the East Coast monitor the storm closely over the coming days.