KATIA ashore, IRMA and JOSE shaping up for landfalls
Hurricane KATIA made landfall 3 hours ago just north of Tecolutla, Mexico - around 45 miles south of Tuxpan or 750 miles south of Brownsville for perspective. Rapid weakening is taking place now as it heads inland particularly due to interaction with the high terrain of the Sierra Madre mountains, indeed this was downgraded to a tropical storm with 40 knot winds just 30 minutes after landfall. As we see this disappear from our screens, it heads direct towards Mexico City. A groundspeed of 6 knots and distance to go of 300 miles should be enough to see off a weakening cyclone fairly easily without bothering the good people of the capital city. Nonetheless, this has lounged about at sea for long enough to have accumulated considerable amounts of moisture and very heavy rains are expected to affect eastern Mexico with potential life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Even our 'easiest' hurricane today is a threat to life.
Hurricane IRMA is now centred 230 miles south-sou'east of Miami westbound at 11 knots. Just an hour ago, an aerial reconnaissance flight reported consistent surface winds of 140 knots. IRMA is back to category 5. The eye of IRMA will move near the north coast of Cuba today then the Florida Keys on Sunday morning. Tropical storm force wind and rain bands are already ashore in Florida, of course. The hurricane-force windfield diameter is 140 miles and tropical storm force windfield has a diameter of 360 miles. Rainfall over the coming couple of days is expected to reach 8 to 15 inches for much of the Florida peninsula and southeast, perhaps 20 inches in isolated areas. Some slight fluctuations in size and intensity are possible during the next day or two, but it seems more or less, that this is the shape of IRMA set for landfall. Hurricane conditions are still occurring over portions of the central Bahamas, as well as Ragged Island where an exceptional 15 to 20 feet surge is still expected. Storm surge heights are expected around Florida of between 2-4 feet on the Fort Lauderdale side and up to 8-12 feet in the south west. Furthermore, hurricane conditions are expected along the north coast of Cuba today. As we discussed yesterday, track changes going forward are likely to be in the tens of miles rather than the hundreds, and given the size of this storm, a drift west doesn't mean that Sunday will be a beach day on the east coast. The latest most reliable prediction is for the eye to pass over the Florida Keys early on Sunday morning then make a landfall in southwest Florida late on Sunday morning followed by a track north-nor'west, a little east of Tampa on Sunday night and Gainesville on Monday morning before moving into Georgia.
Hurricane JOSE is now centred 230 miles east-sou'east of the northernmost Leeward Islands headed west-nor'west at 12 knots. JOSE has wobbled slightly but remains a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 knots, a hurricane force windfield of 70 mile diameter and a tropical storm force windfield diameter of 280 miles. A cruel second hurricane strike at the Leeward Islands is expected tonight and thereafter uncertain but a turn towards the north is anticipated of which more later.