Hurricane Irma has already been dubbed one of the Atlantic’s most powerful storms. It’s left almost a million people without power in Puerto Rico, nearly 70% of the island, it has “totally destroyed” the Caribbean island of Barbuda, and set a number of historical benchmarks while forecasts and predictions are still coming in. At its worst, Irma had taken the lives of at least 10 people in the Caribbean Wednesday, according to a story from CNN.
The National Hurricane center’s computer model projections predict Irma will make landfall over Southern Florida on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. When that happens, depending on Irma’s existing strength and path, it could mark the first calendar year the United States has seen two Category 4 landfalls, something that has never happened according to historical records that go back to 1851. And for some reference, Irma’s sustained winds of 185 MPH while tearing through the Caribbean this week–one of just four hurricanes to have had 185+ MPH winds–could trump Category 4 Hurricane Harvey’s 130 MPH winds when it reached Rockport, Texas on August 25th by a wide margin.
With all that said, prediction after prediction and countless projections are still pouring in as to what impact Irma will have in the Southeastern United States once it gets there. Here are a handful of historical marks already reached by the storm as of Thursday and ways you can keep up to date on its development in the coming days:
It’s already sustained the longest duration of 185 MPH winds anywhere in the world.
According to Colorado State University’s Dr. Philip Klotzbach, Hurricane Irma’s 33 hours of 185 MPH winds is the longest any storm has sustained such an intensity by more than a full night’s sleep. The previous world’s strongest/longest came in 2013 when Super Typhoon Haiyan held the same intensity for 24 hours.
It’s already one of the longest living Category 5 Hurricanes ever.
As of Thursday morning, Hurricane Irma had been a Category 5 Hurricane for more than 48 hours. According to data from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, it will join just two other hurricanes on record as the longest living Category 5s if it sustains that level into Friday.
It’s had the strongest winds of any hurricane in more than a decade.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale’s highest category is a Category 5 hurricane, with a minimum of 157 MPH winds. Irma’s 185 MPH winds that are tearing through the Caribbean now are obviously well above that bar. The last time an Atlantic hurricane reached this intensity was when Hurricane Wilma reached maximum sustained winds of 185 MPH in October of 2005.
So, what resources can keep us informed about Hurricane Irma’s impact and development in the coming days?
-As mentioned, Irma is expected to make landfall on U.S. soil over the weekend, but the exact path and a number of other variables are constantly changing. The ECMWF is considered one of the most consistently accurate computing systems for making some of these predictions. Known as the “European Model,” it makes two projections a day about the behavior of the atmosphere all over the world.
-The NOAA and National Weather service have an updated map, tracking Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose, and Hurricane Katia over the Atlantic and Caribbean right now. Satellite images, buoy information, and storm grids can be found for all storm activity there.
-NASA is collecting and sharing satellite data of Irma, from sea surface temps to infrared images to real life images.