If you’ve been outside the past couple of days you’ll know that people are in a panic over Hurricane Irma. This is a major hurricane, but what effects will it have on Tampa Bay?
With 185 mph winds gusting to 225 mph, Hurricane Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Its projected path is WNW towards Puerto Rico, the Domincan Republic, Haiti and Cuba. At some point this storm is going to track north, and here lies the big area of uncertainty. Spaghetti models yesterday showed a scenario where Irma tracks in the Gulf of Mexico and swings back into the southwest of Florida. We believe it’s going to track north much sooner and will have a greater effect on the east coast of Florida, heres why:
The Simple Science
Hurricanes want to track north as soon as possible but can’t because the area of high pressure in the Atlantic (as seen in the diagram above). As soon as that area of high pressure weakens enough, the storms will track north and then northwest around the high pressure. High pressure spins clockwise while low pressure (Hurricane Irma) spins counter clockwise. As soon as there’s a weakening in the high pressure over the Atlantic, Irmas going to track north. There’s a second area of high pressure coming down from the Central United States that will act as a buffer to Irma. Here’s what the pressure over the Atlantic and United States looks like on Friday according to Windy.com:
There should be enough weakening in the high pressure over the Atlantic to see a more a more northerly track by Friday morning. Spaghetti models are beginning to come in agreement that Hurricane Irma will continue west northwest and then straight north potentially having a direct effect on the Keys, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the east coast of Florida.
Hurricane Irma and Tampa Bay
Assuming that Irma tracks north on the east coast of Florida, we’ll experience a northeast/ north northeast wind. What this will do is actually push water out of Tampa Bay and into the Gulf. We’ll still experience bands of heavy rain and gusts that can excel tropical storm force winds. We’ll begin seeing signs of Irma as early as Friday and seeing more intensity as the weekend progresses. The most intense conditions for us will be Sunday afternoon throughout Sunday night.
What This Means For Kiteboarders In Tampa Bay
We know people are going to go chase wind, so if you’re one of those people, make sure you’re honest with yourself about your skill level. Know that on Sunday, as that storm gets closer, we’ll see gusts that may exceed 60 knots. Even if the sensors are showing a consistent 30, there will be bands with squalls that can easily pull you off your edge if you’re not experienced enough to know what to do. Always plan for the worst, don’t put yourself in a situation where you can hurt yourself or someone else. In 2008, someone in Miami tried kiteboarding a tropical storm and this is what happened to them:
Kiteboarding St Petersburg will not be conducting lessons this weekend. We’re rescheduling to a safer, more calm day.
If you want to follow the latest on Hurricane Irma check out: