A tornado watch has been issued as Irma inches closer

By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 10, 2017

12:15 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Irma continues its northerly movement after it hit the lower Florida Keys Sunday morning. Meanwhile, a tornado watch has been issued for parts of our area.

As off the 11 am Sunday advisory, Irma was 80 miles south-southeast of Naples, moving nearly due-north (350 degrees) at 9 mph. Based on radar imagery as of noon, the hurricane could take direct aim for the Marco Island area. The storm has wobbled on-and-off overnight and the early morning, but seems to be making more of a northerly track late in the morning. Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance flights have shown more of a north-northwest movement late Sunday morning.

With the ridge of high pressure in the Atlantic weakening, an upper-level trough digging through the Southeast is helping to pull up Irma, and accelerate the movement of the storm. It may move more northwestward once it gets into Georgia.

We are watching to see if it will make landfall in the southern peninsula, or hang around the coast. Any persistent wobbles and changes in direction (left or right) will determine direct impacts in the Big Bend and South Georgia.

Despite the warm (mid 80s) water temps in the region Irma is approaching, the storm hugging the coast (or even making landfall) will begin the decrease in maximum sustained winds as Irma starts interacting more with the land. Wind shear farther north into the Southeast will also impact the structure of the storm. Regardless of any wind speed decrease, gusts of hurricane-force along with heavy rain and storm surge are impacts to not forget.

The projected impacts have not changed much since the earlier update, but it could change based on the final path of Irma.

WIND

We could see sustained winds between 50 and 75 mph, with hurricane-force gusts. Winds will begin to pick up tonight and ramp up early Monday morning as Irma gets close. There are greater odds of hurricane-force gusts (at least) along the southeastern Big Bend coast. Power outages can be expected, so brace

RAIN

Rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are possible, with some localized higher amounts. The greatest rainfall amounts will likely be in our eastern areas. Rivers and associated creeks and streams could rise and approach bankfull levels, according to the National Weather Service. Some areas could also see flooding of low-lying areas, which could make driving difficult. DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED AREAS. Turn around, don't drown.

SEVERE WEATHER

With landfalling tropical cyclones, there is that threat for tornadoes on the right-hand side of the center of circulation. There is a possibility for tornadoes.

A Tornado WATCH has been issued for our eastern Big Bend counties (Lafayette, Suwannee, Hamilton, Dixie) until 12 am. This means conditions are favorable for severe weather and tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Those in the watch should be on the lookout, and be alert for any warnings that could be issued. These tropical-cyclone-induced tornadoes can spin up quickly and are normally short lived and weaker; however, warnings should be taken seriously. South Florida reported tornadoes and waterspouts with some of the warned cells.

COASTAL FLOODING

We could see 4 to 7 feet of surge, with the possibility of higher amounts, along the Big Bend coast. The surge threat could be the greatest in Taylor and Dixie counties - especially if the path of Irma is more westerly.

Stay tuned to for the latest information on Irma.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 10, 2017

8:30 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane Irma is making it's first U.S. mainland landfall in the Keys as a Category 4 storm.

The 8 am advisory from the National Hurricane Center has the storm 20 miles east-southeast of Key West, moving north-northwest (330 degrees) at 8 mph. The center of circulation has been wobbling quite a bit overnight, and still showed some signs of that based on satellite and radar imagery. Regardless, a general northerly to north-northwesterly track is expected to continue with an increase in forward speed.

Maximum sustained winds were at 130 mph, with higher gusts. Doppler radar from Key West has indicated winds above 150 mph nearly 1,000 feet above the ground.

The minimum central pressure was at 929 millibars. Another reconnaissance flight is en route to Irma as of this post, so new data should be retrieved soon. Some data suggests that Irma has not recovered much of its luster since interacting with Cuba.

Regardless, Irma remains a major hurricane, which will likely make another landfall in the western peninsula, or get close to land, later today or tonight. With the storms erratic, subtle movements, exact landfall points will remain difficult to determine. The cone of error from the NHC runs from inland West Florida to barely over the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, any changes in the track could impact what Irma does to some locations - including the Big Bend and South Georgia. At this moment, here's what we could expect...

WIND

We could see sustained winds between 50 and 75 mph, with hurricane-force gusts. Winds will begin to pick up tonight and ramp up early Monday morning as Irma gets close. There are greater odds of hurricane-force gusts (at least) along the southeastern Big Bend coast.

RAIN

Rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are possible, with some localized higher amounts. The greatest rainfall amounts will likely be in our eastern areas. Rivers and associated creeks and streams could rise and approach bankfull levels, according to the National Weather Service. Some areas could also see flooding of low-lying areas, which could make driving difficult. DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED AREAS. Turn around, don't drown.

SEVERE WEATHER

With landfalling tropical cyclones, there is that threat for tornadoes on the right-hand side of the center of circulation. There is a possibility for tornadoes. The greatest threat would be in our eastern viewing area on Monday. This threat could change if the center of circulation moves left or right.

COASTAL FLOODING

We could see 4 to 7 feet of surge is probable, with the possibility of higher amounts, along the Big Bend coast. The surge threat could be the greatest in Taylor and Dixie counties - especially if the path of Irma is more westerly.

We will continue to post updates on our website, along with Facebook Live updates and posts on social media throughout the day, Sunday night, and Monday.


By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 8, 2017

11:40pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The 11 PM update for Hurricane Irma does not show much of a change in the projected path along the west coast of Florida. As of the 11 PM advisory, Irma remains a category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. The hurricane is slowly moving northwest at 5 mph. It may be slow-moving, but the northwest motion is encouraging as the storm begins its turn before moving along the west coast of the state.

Irma is still expected to weaken as it moves toward the Big Bend. By the time it reaches North Florida and South Georgia, it could be a category 1 hurricane.

A hurricane warning is in effect for all counties within the WCTV viewing area.


A storm surge warning is in effect for coastal Wakulla county to coastal Dixie counties. Storm surge of between 3 to 7 ft are possible Sunday night into Monday.


8:10 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The 8PM update from the National Hurricane Center hasn't changed much since 5PM. Irma is a category 3 hurricane with winds of 120 mph. The central pressure of the storm is 932 millibars. Hurricane Irma is expected to continue west-northwest, then taking a northeast turn. It will likely restrengthen into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Southwest Florida.

Hurricane warnings extend through The Florida coast from Franklin and Wakulla counties northward to Worth County in Georgia.


If Irma continues on the forecast track by the NHC, it could weaken to a category 3 hurricane by the time it impacts the Tampa Bay area. As of the 8PM advisory, it is expected to weaken to a category 1 hurricane by Monday afternoon.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 8, 2017

12:15 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The maximum sustained winds have decreased, but Irma still remains a potent hurricane with a chance to regain some strength before making landfall in Florida. Hurricane Watches have also been moved northward to include parts of the eastern Big Bend counties.

The 11 am advisory from the National Hurricane Center has Irma 175 miles southeast of Key West, moving westward (280 degrees) at 9 mph. It's expected to make a northerly turn later tonight.

"The hurricane is about the reach the southwestern portion of the subtropical high, and the expected turn to the northwest and north-northwest should begin soon," according to the NHC's latest discussion on the storm.

Maximum sustained winds have dropped to 125 mph, and the minimum central pressure has increased to 941 millibars based on recent flights into the storm. The island of Cuba has disrupted the potency of Irma, but it's still packing a punch on the island. There is a chance that it could restrengthen once it moves into the very warm waters of the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the hurricane is within radar range, the NHC will be issuing hourly position updates.

Hurricane warnings have been extended into the eastern Big Bend counties as of the 11 am advisory.

As of this moment and with the forecast track, we could see hurricane-force gusts in our area, along with tropical-storm-force winds, starting as early as late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

Otherwise, not much has changed since our previous web update (scroll down to see it). Expect another update to the web later this afternoon. We'll continue to watch the progress of Hurricane Irma.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 8, 2017

10:00 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane Irma's persistent westward movement, along with changes in some of the most reliable weather guidance models, have pushed the cone a bit westward.

The 8 am Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center has the center of Irma 225 miles south of Miami. Parts of South Florida are already seeing outer rain bands move through. CBS Miami is reporting power outages in that area.


The hurricane was moving west-northwest (275 degrees) at 12 mph, according to the latest advisory. It is going back to more of a west-northwest path unlike Friday night's mainly westward movement. It was moving a bit slower than it has been a couple of days ago.

Maximum sustained winds of 130 mph were recorded, which is less than Friday night's brief stint at Category 5 status. It's likely that Irma's interaction with Cuba is hurting its wind intensity; regardless, it's still a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

The minimum central pressure recorded by recon flights was 937 millibars, which is higher than Friday night.

Irma is expected to slow down and begin to make a more northward turn around the ridge of high pressure to the northeast of the hurricane sometime Saturday night. Because of the shifts in the forecast and when and where Irma may make the turn, a Florida landfall (beyond the Florida Keys) is difficult to determine.

The hurricane does have a chance to reorganize once it leaves the Cuban coast and makes its way into the very warm waters of the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico. However, Irma will likely begin to encounter wind shear as it moves northward. Wind shear is not something that hurricanes like, and it could lessen its organization.

As for the Big Bend, the westward shift slightly changes the forecast. As previously mentioned multiple times, ANY change in track (left or right) can bring big changes with what we could expect locally. The National Hurricane Center has issued Hurricane Watches for our eastern viewing area. This watch includes Tallahassee, Apalachicola, Thomasville, Valdosta, Perry, and Live Oak. This means hurricane-force winds are possible in the watch area. As of this post, the potential is there to see hurricane-force GUSTS in our area along with tropical-storm-force sustained winds. These winds could uproot or snap large trees, along with a potential for power outages.


Here are some of the other possible impacts to our area. Based on the changing forecast, this is subject to being adjusted.

RAIN

Rainfall amounts of 3 to 7 inches are possible, with some localized higher amounts. The greatest rainfall amounts will likely be in our eastern areas. Rivers and associated creeks and streams could rise and approach bankfull levels, according to the National Weather Service. Some areas could also see flooding of low-lying areas, which could make driving difficult. DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOODED AREAS. Turn around, don't drown.

SEVERE WEATHER

With landfalling tropical cyclones, there is that threat for tornadoes on the right-hand side of the center of circulation. There is a possibility for tornadoes. The greatest threat would be in our eastern viewing area. This threat could change if the center of circulation moves left or right.

COASTAL FLOODING

We could see 2 to 4 feet of surge in Taylor and Dixie counties, according to the National Weather Service.

The next advisory on Irma will be issued at 11 am Saturday. We'll post another update after that advisory is released. Stay tuned.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 8, 2017

6:00 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- With most guidance models showing consensus and as the time ticks towards Irma's first landfall in the continental U.S., impacts in the Big Bend and South Georgia are beginning to become clear.

The 5 p.m. advisory has Hurricane Irma at Category 4 status, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. The minimum central pressure was at 925 millibars. Some fluctuations in the intensity are expected over the next 24-36 hours.

Irma is moving westward (280 degrees) at 12 mph. It has picked up a slightly northern component since the 2 p.m. advisory where it was going due west (270 degrees). The hurricane could tap or temporarily make landfall in northern Cuba, then make its way back in the Florida Straits. A weakness in the ridge is expected to allow for the storm to turn more northward Saturday, then make landfall in south Florida sometime Sunday. The NHC notes in their latest discussion that there is uncertainty for exactly when and where this northward turn will take place.


The official track has Hurricane Irma moving northward through the peninsula Sunday, making its way to South Georgia as a tropical storm Monday afternoon. The entire peninsula, Big Bend, and South Georgia is in the cone of error. Any changes of the storm's path could alter the forecast and impacts for our viewing area. But, with the models (especially the European and the ensembles) showing more agreement with a path, the picture of what we could expect locally is taking shape. Of course, it is subject to change based on changes in the forecast path.

WIND

Winds will begin to noticeably increase starting Sunday night into the 20-30 mph range. Then, winds could get into tropical-storm-force range between 39-55 mph during the day Monday. Winds should start to relax after midnight Tuesday.

As of now, and based on the track, the greatest odds of tropical-storm-force winds will be in our eastern areas. There is a chance that a few spots could see hurricane-force GUSTS.

As mentioned in an earlier post, there is a chance some areas could see power outages. Just be ready for that possibility.

RAIN

Rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches are possible, with some localized higher amounts. The greatest rainfall amounts will likely be in our eastern areas.

SEVERE WEATHER

With landfalling tropical cyclones, there is that threat for tornadoes on the right-hand side of the center of circulation. There is a possibility for tornadoes - especially as the storm starts to decay over the peninsula. The greatest threat would be in our far-eastern viewing area, or east of our area. This threat could change if the center of circulation moves left or right.

COASTAL FLOODING

Minor coastal flooding is possible Sunday into Monday as the winds switch direction when the storm passes. Franklin and parts of Wakulla counties might see minor increases Sunday. Taylor and Dixie counties might see minor surge Monday. Again, any changes in track and intensity could alter this forecast.

We will be fully-staffed this weekend as Hurricane Irma makes its way toward us. Keep tabs on our updates on air, online, and on our social accounts for the latest.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 8, 2017

12:00 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane Irma has slowed down in movement slightly, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, Irma was 405 miles southeast of Miami, moving west-northwest (285 degrees) at 14 mph. It has dropped in forward speed from 16 mph on Thursday. This movement is expected to continue through Saturday as it rides to the south of the high pressure ridge over the Atlantic. It will begin to slow down Saturday into Sunday, and then move more northward.

Maximum sustained winds were at 150 mph - a lower wind speed than Thursday, but still a very powerful Category 4 hurricane. The minimum central pressure based on Hurricane Hunter flight data is at 927 millibars. Based on flight and satellite data, Irma is going through an eye wall replacement cycle, so it's not as intense as it was Thursday. Intensity fluctuations are expected before landfall in South Florida, which is expected sometime Saturday night into Sunday morning. It's important to note that conditions in South Florida will deteriorate well ahead of the center of circulation's arrival.

The European forecast model has maintained the leftward track it made Thursday afternoon, and the National Hurricane Center is taking that into consideration with the cone of uncertainty. The cone was adjusted slightly westward based on the data, the NHC wrote in their 11 am discussion. The European ensemble members, unlike 48 hours ago, are in more of an agreement with a path through the Florida peninsula, with a few of its 50 members going just west of Tampa.

Confidence is increasing for South Georgia and the Big Bend of encountering tropical-storm-force winds as Irma makes it through Florida. Tropical-storm-force gusts are possible starting Sunday night into Monday, with the European model suggesting some of our eastern areas getting tropical storm sustained winds on Monday. Of course, this all depends on the final path of Irma; therefore, no specifics on any given location can be determined yet. Any deviations in the path by, say, 50 miles or more could change the forecast.

It's important to note that Hurricane Hermine, which struck the Big Bend in September 2016, only brought *recorded* winds of tropical-storm-force in Tallahassee. Hermine was able to cause major power outages and downed trees throughout town. There is a chance of seeing power outages once again in our area as Irma inches towards northern Florida into Southern Georgia. Be sure you have your storm kit ready, which includes plenty of water, batteries, flashlights, and mobile phone power backup devices.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma. Be sure to stay tuned to our updates on air, on our website, and on our social media channels.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 7, 2017

6:00 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Irma continues its west-northwestward path, but some changes in the potential path have been reflected in the new cone of uncertainty.


The 5 p.m. advisory had Irma 40 miles south of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas, with the storm moving west-northwest (285 degrees bearing) at 16 mph. This heading is expected to continue over the next couple of days as Irma rides on the southwestern end of high pressure in the Atlantic.

The high, along with a upper-level trough of low pressure, and a tropical upper-level low south of Cuba could have some impacts on where it could go.


But the ridge could have a big impact on the direction of Irma.

"The forecast track for the first two days was adjusted a little bit to the south given that the ridge to the north continues to be strong," the National Hurricane Center wrote in their 5 p.m. discussion.

The often respected European forecast model, which completed its Thursday morning run by the afternoon (it does take a while for it to crank out the results), hinted two things. The operational run showed an adjustment to the left, putting the storm inland through the Florida peninsula and taking it northward. The ensemble runs have, overall, shifted slightly westward compared to the previous run. The European, along with another model, have been performing well for this storm so far, according to the NHC. This prompted a shift to the left in the cone of error.

It will be worthy to see if the next run of this model shows consistency from here on out. Consistency usually (but not always) in model runs should be taken a bit more seriously.

Despite these changes, the outcome remains uncertain for the Big Bend and South Georgia as it is still to early in the game. Any change in the track of Irma could alter our local forecast.

It's important to have your hurricane plan in place and on standby. It's also wise to ensure you have enough supplies on hand (non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, medications, etc). Having a plan of action and plenty of supplies to get you at least three days through the storm ahead of time will help relieve the stress of any advancing tropical system.

As for the strength of Irma, it remains a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 922 millibars. Not much has changed in strength over the last few hour. With low shear and very warm water in the storm's path, there not much reason to believe Irma will weaken in the near term.

Hurricane watches are in effect for South Florida, and the NHC said that additional watches could be added northward tonight.

Be sure to keep tabs on our weather updates on air, on our website, and on our social media channels. You can live stream our newscasts from our website and on our Roku app.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 7, 2017 - 11:45 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Hurricane watches are in effect for much of South Florida as Irma aims for the Bahamas.

The Category 5 hurricane was 120 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island and moving west-northwest according to the 11 am Thursday advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane has taken more of a slightly northerly direction compared to Wednesday (290 degree bearing Thursday versus 285 on Wednesday).

Hurricane watches are now in effect for portions of South Florida - from Jupiter Inlet south to around the peninsula to Bonita Beach. The Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay are also included in the watch. Those in the watch should be wrapping up any preparation.


Maximum sustained winds have dropped to 175 mph, and the minimum central pressure based on Air Force recon was 921 millibars. The minimum pressure has increased slightly since Wednesday night, indicating some weakening. Regardless, Irma still remains a very powerful hurricane. Some fluctuations in intensity are possible over the next few days.

Hurricane-force winds extend out to 60 miles from the center of Irma, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles, according to the latest advisory.

Operational runs of the American GFS and the European models have been consistent of Irma riding along or close to Florida's eastern coastline. Ensemble runs of the models still have their spread, and the Euro (with it's 50 ensemble members) have the widest realm of possibilities. The eastern Big Bend and parts of South Georgia remain in the NHC's cone of uncertainty, as the forecasting error increases with time.

The big forecasting issue continues to be the strength of the high pressure ridge in the Atlantic to the northeast of Irma, and the upper-level trough that has helped to push the surface cold front through our area Wednesday night. When and how much the high weakens will determine the direction Irma could take to the north sometime Saturday into Sunday.

Impacts to South Florida from Irma are becoming increasingly likely, but exact expectations for the Big Bend and South Georgia still remain uncertain as it is still too far out to give an accurate forecast. Those in our viewing are should continue to pay attention over the next couple of days as any change in the path of the storm could alter our forecast and impacts.

Be sure to keep tabs on our weather updates on air, on our website, and on our social media channels. You can live stream our newscasts from our website and on our Roku app.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 6, 2017 - 5:55 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The minimum central pressure has decreased slightly Wednesday evening in Hurricane Irma, a signal that the storm is keeping a hold of its strength.

As of the 5 p.m. Wednesday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Irma was 40 miles northwest of Saint Thomas and moving west-northwest at 16 mph. Maximum sustained winds remain at 185 mph, keeping its Category 5 status.

Hurricane Hunters found slightly lower central pressure compared to earlier Wednesday.


The storm is just north of Puerto Rico, and it looks as if the island could be spared a direct landfall as it makes its way west-northwest. This movement is expected over the next couple of days. Irma is expected to make more of a northward turn sometime Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center's forecast track.

The operational runs of the American GFS and the European models are almost on cue with each other, taking Irma northward towards the southeastern Florida coastline and maintaining a northward movement. The ensemble members of each of the models continue to show different solutions ranging from the western peninsula of Florida to farther offshore of Florida's coast.

A high pressure ridge to the northeast of Irma will be a driving force over the next few days, but a weaker trough over the Southeast US could be a driving force for moving northward. How strong the ridge will be will determine where it will move northward.

The odds of South Florida seeing some impacts from Irma are increasing, but are uncertain for the Big Bend and South Georgia. Any adjustment in the northward track will change our forecast greatly.

Those in the Big Bend and South Georgia should keep an eye on Irma this week. It's important to have your hurricane plan in place just in case.

Residents in South Florida need to be ready, or close to ready, as time is running out.

Stay tuned to for the latest online, on air, and on our social media channels.


By: Charles Roop | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hurricane Irma continues to show no mercy as the storm moves west-northwestward, but questions still remain about impacts in Florida.

Irma was 65 miles east-southeast of Saint Thomas as of the 11 am advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane was moving west-northwest at 16 mph, carrying maximum sustained winds of 185 mph. Minimum central pressure is at 918 millibars.

Radar imagery from San Juan, Puerto Rico is showing the hurricane aiming for the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.


Irma is expected to continue its west-northwest path until this weekend. At some point over the weekend, the models are in good agreement of a northward turn. The big question is when it will make that northerly turn. It will depend on the strength of the ridge of high pressure in the mid levels in the Atlantic northeast of the hurricane. Recent operational runs of the American GFS and the European models are hinting at a weakening and eastward retreat of the ridge, allowing the Irma to move northward around the eastern nose of the ridge. The operational runs are taking Irma just off of Florida's east coast. But the ensemble members of the GFS and Euro keep wide scenarios in play - from a landfall in the Big Bend, to staying farther out in the Atlantic. The latest cone of error from the NHC has shifted more east, but still puts the eastern Big Bend on the west side of the cone.


So far, the greatest threat for the US mainland is southeastern Florida, where the NHC is giving higher odds of tropical storm-force winds. That is expected to change over time as there is more certainty in the forecast. Impacts on the Big Bend and South Georgia remain uncertain.

Of course, it's still a bit too early to make a final call on where Irma will go. There is still plenty of time before Florida could see impacts from the hurricane. Also, as new data continues to flood the guidance models from Hurricane Hunter aircraft and extra weather balloon launches in the US, the model outputs could change.

As long as Irma remains over the very warm Atlantic waters, there is no reason to expect any major weakening of the storm over the next few days.

It's important to keep checking back over the next few days. Be careful where you receive weather information from, and rely on trusted sources. The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to provide updates online, on air, and on our social media accounts.



 
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