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Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast On Alert As Hurricane Irma Forms In Atlantic Ocean

As Texas and Louisiana cope with the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, an “extremely dangerous” new hurricane is taking shape in the Atlantic Ocean.

Although Hurricane Irma remains several hundred miles out to sea, forecasters became alarmed when what had been a tropical storm gathered strength Thursday to become a Category 2 hurricane.

Irma is forecast to become a Category 3 hurricane by Thursday night, with sustained winds that could reach between 111 and 129 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma is expected to be “an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days,” and is forecast to become a Category 4 storm next week.

One meteorologist thinks it could become a Category 5 storm.

So far, experts have not plotted the hurricane’s projected course beyond Sept. 4, though there are a large number of possibilities.

“What we do know is that it will be an exceptionally strong hurricane, and all interests across the Lesser Antilles/Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the U.S — both Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast — need to monitor Irma’s path,” said Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean.

Because the path of a hurricane is subject to variables in winds and current, precise predictions are little more than educated guesses.

“With Irma almost over 3,500 miles from Miami and any landfall 10 to 14 days away, it’s just not possible to put a finer point than that on Irma’s threat right now. But certainly, the entire U.S. East Coast, South Florida, North Florida, and the Gulf Coast should be watching Irma very carefully until a track scenario becomes more clear,” wrote Ryan Truchelut in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Truchelut gave Irma a 30-35 percent chance of hitting the U.S.

In trying to guess the storm’s path, The Washington Post’s Brian McNoldy said the storm’s path in the next few days should offer some clues.

“The farther north it goes, the more likely it becomes that it will recurve to the north and away from land. But if it stays farther south, away from weaknesses in a large area of high pressure in the subtropics (to its north), it can keep cruising toward the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and possibly the United States,” he wrote.

Irma is the ninth named storm of the year. Earlier this month, forecasters predicted an “above normal” season with 14-19 named storms.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that an average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, produces 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

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source: Western Journalism

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