What track will Hurricane Irma take?

Posted at 10:29 AM, Sep 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-03 11:32:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hurricane Irma has grown into a major hurricane, and the track over the next week may include the United States.

Irma was a category three hurricane located less than 900 miles from the Leeward Islands as of midday Sunday.  As Irma moves over warmer water, the strength is expected to increase.

The forecast track takes the storm on the north side of the islands and then towards the Bahamas.  It may be a category four hurricane as it approaches the Bahamas on Friday.

The path after that point is still in question.  While some models target the southeast and Mid-Atlantic coast, the range in solutions from all of the computer models range from a path into the Gulf of Mexico to a path closer to Bermuda.

Why is this?  Firstly, not a ton of data has been fed into the computer models so far due to its location over the ocean.  NOAA will fly a hurricane hunter aircraft into the storm on Monday, and this will yield a lot more data for the computer models to work with.  So while the model tracks so far have been a tool to look at, they aren't telling the entire story just yet.

Secondly, there are some factors that aren't 100% certain yet.  There is a large area of high pressure over the Atlantic.  This has influenced Irma's movement so far.  We are watching a trough that will be crossing the eastern United States between Wednesday and Friday.   The speed and exact position of this trough, coupled with the placement of the high pressure, is the difference between the storm heading to Florida, the Mid-Atlantic, the northeast, or between the east coast and Bermuda.  Could Irma hit North Carolina or Virginia? Yes. Is it a certainty at this point? Absolutely not.

We will have a much better idea of the storm's track over the next few days.  If it does come close to our area, it would be next Sunday or Monday.  Stay updated with the latest forecasts on our weather page, CBS 6 Hurricane Tracker, and the CBS 6 Weather Authority App.

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