The National Hurricane Center issued an advisory Thursday about Hurricane Irma, the ninth named storm of the season, which by Thursday afternoon had a maximum sustained wind speed of 100 mph.
Hurricane Irma is forecast as a major hurricane – which indicates that it will have wind speeds of more than 110 mph – as it approaches Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles. The storm formed off the coast of Africa and meteorological models show it moving toward the eastern Caribbean over the next five days.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) August 31, 2017
Kerry Powery, chief meteorologist for the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, said Thursday afternoon that the storm does not look likely to make landfall in the Cayman Islands.
“The storm has roughly intensified over the last 24 hours, but it is not too much of a concern for us,” he said. “It will be five days before it gets close to the eastern Caribbean, and there’s a chance it could turn back out to the Atlantic. We have to continue to monitor the progress of the storm.”
Mr. Powery said that forecasting models by the National Weather Service have greatly improved over time, but they are still “not foolproof.” Sixty-six percent of storms fall within the projected cone and its margin of error, but Mr. Powery stressed that still means that a third of the storms go outside the cone.
Right now, he said, there’s a general consensus that there is a high-pressure system in the central Atlantic, and while the storm is moving westward, it could eventually turn away from the Caribbean.
The storm on Thursday was moving west-northwest near 10 mph, and forecasters say it was likely to continue in that direction through early Friday.
According to an Associated Press report, possibilities range from a landfall on the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean to the Carolinas and Bermuda – and everything in between.
“Steering winds will guide Irma close to the Leeward Islands and then perhaps Puerto Rico and Hispaniola around the middle of next week,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson.