Raleigh, N.C. — The East Coast of the United States is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Irma on Monday as the Category 3 storm continues its trek westward across the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s still too early to know exactly where it will land.
Irma continued to swirl out in the middle of the ocean on Monday with sustained winds of 115 mph. It was moving west southwest at 14 mph.
“It looks reasonably well organized, and it has developed a little bit more of a visible eye here in the last six hours or so,” said WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss.
The latest forecast track, though, predicted the storm would take a path just south of the forecast on Sunday, sweeping the eye of the storm across the southern Bahamas and northern Cuba by Friday and into Saturday this week. By Tuesday, Irma is expected to strengthen into a Category 4 storm.
“The longest distance track at this point has shifted a little south from where it was before,” Moss said. “It had been right up over the Bahamas. Now, it’s closer to northern Cuba.
“That kind of opens the idea that the chance of a pass into the Gulf of Mexico may be a little higher than it looked earlier.”
Irma’s threat comes days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, bringing strong winds and devastating amounts of rain to the Gulf Coast. While Irma continues to track west, though, it’s still unclear when or if it would turn off its current path.
“However, we have this spread of uncertainty,” Moss said. “There’s still some possibility it could turn up (toward North Carolina) before that point. We’ll have to watch it thorough the week, and hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday we’ll get a better sense of what threat it may or may not be to the eastern coast of the United States.”