Hurricane IRMA bullying sailors

Saturday 2nd September 2017

Disturbance Thirty Four entered the Bay of Campeche overnight and looks set to head west across the Bay at 12 knots. Whilst there are still positive environmental conditions for development, a frontal system coming south is drawing dry air and wind shear into the Gulf of Mexico and will keep this in check.

Category 3 hurricane IRMA is now 1500 miles east of the Caribbean headed a tad north of west at 12 knots. Despite a wobble overnight, this remains a powerful storm with a current hurricane severity index rating of 16 out of a possible 50 points (5 size / 11 intensity) which in real terms is producing 100 to 120 knot winds. Further intensification is expected to a rating of 29 (14 for size and 15 for intensity). These are really nasty days at sea. With a clear run ahead, IRMA is expected to make its closest approach to the islands of the north west Caribbean on Wednesday, still as a powerful hurricane. Thereafter the track remains uncertain and opinions are divided between an early turn into the Atlantic, a swipe at Florida and the eastern seaboard or the eastern Gulf of Mexico. As things stand, the eastern seaboard would seem marginally more likely and is today's view of the more reliable and consistent commentators, while the Blind Sniper has this going to the western Gulf.

I'd watch Disturbance Thirty Seven. Two days west of the Cape Verde Islands, this system is astern and south of IRMA enjoying the same storm-positive environment but could follow a more southerly track than its predecessor which may in extremis reach the western Caribbean where fertile waters wait. Early days.

Awful days at sea, otherwise stand easy.