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WeatherBELL Meteorologist: Hurricane Irma a 'Catastrophic Event' for Florida

WeatherBELL Meteorologist: Hurricane Irma a 'Catastrophic Event' for Florida Read Transcript


Hurricane Irma is now a monster category 5 storm.

It's the most powerful witnessed in the Atlantic

in more than 10 years.

Joe Bastardi is chief meteorologist

for WeatherBELL analytics, and he joins us now with more.

Welcome Joe.

Well, nice to be here.

First of all, give us your forecast--

when and where will it hit, and how strong do you think it will

be then?

Well, it'll be a category 5.

It's going to devastate the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico is going to get a bad storm,

but it will not hit them directly.

It'll go 60 to 100 miles north of San Juan, it looks like.

And then continue into the Turks and Caicos island as a category

4 or 5 storm.

And a devastating hurricane, at that.

Now I do believe Florida is going to get hit.

And it's going to be a catastrophic event where

it hits.

The easiest way out, if you want to call it that,

with this hurricane is that after the southern Bahamas

it goes west into Cuba.

Weakens for a while, then comes back north.

If that's the case, we have a severe hurricane--

no doubt about that for South Florida.

If it just stays over the water and goes

between Cuba and Florida before coming into Florida,

this could be as bad a hurricane as we've ever seen

hit south Florida.

And in the worst case scenario, I

could see the pressure in this-- the barometric pressure--

falling as low as the 1935 Labor Day hurricane, which

brought winds of over 200 miles an hour to the Florida Keys.

So there is a tremendous amount of potential for this.

Keep in mind it would have to read a needle to do that.

It's very, very rare that that threading of the needle

is actually on the table.

Well what's going to happen after it makes landfall?

Well, it's going to continue to devastate Florida

up the coast, whichever coast it moves up along.

If it moves up along the west coast,

you're talking Tampa and on up in there.

It will be weakening.

It will be 80 to 100 mile an hour hurricane by the time

it gets north of Tampa.

If it goes up the east coast, very close,

that's a bigger problem because we've got more ports up there

all the way up to Jacksonville.

There's an inflow of warm moist air from the east.

Remember, a hurricane coming up the west side of Florida

is pulling air in from off Florida.

That's why the 1935 hurricane-- and this is the benchmark

hurricane in the Florida Keys--

went through there as a category 5.

But by the time it made its final landfall, up near Cedar

Key, it was down to a 1.

So I think this is a catastrophic event for whoever

gets hit.

It looks like it's targeted south Florida.

Our track is into the southwest coast of Florida right now,

but I'm very nervous further east.

And even if it goes into the southwest coast of Florida,

all of Florida is going to get a hurricane if you live east

of Apalachicola.

I don't think this is a big threat for Pensacola,

Mobile, places like that.

Is this a trend, Joe?

Are we going to start seeing more heavy storms hit the US?

Well, we had this year pegged from May.

And that's just not pompous boasting.

It's on WeatherBELL site.

We said it was a high impact year.

The major hurricane drought was going to end.

And I cannot state it any further--

we've got the whole Western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico

painted red because we felt that's where storms are going

to intensify.

The past 10 to 12 years has been a pattern that's set up.

And it may be because of the warming

of the planet has caused the sea level pressures to vary enough

that the United States has missed it.

So it's odd, isn't it?

That the actual warming may be causing them not to come?

But you notice how cool it's been

and all these hurricanes are going off.

And there's a reason for that.

When the ocean is warm and you have a lot of high pressure

and cool air over North America, hurricanes go up.

That's what you saw happen in past events.

In fact, again, we put this all on our site before the season,

back on May 7th.

We put this out for everybody to see.

If you get a chance to go read that hurricane forecast

from before.

The only thing I'm saying is it looks

like what we suspected before the season is actually

occurring.

Sometimes you get it right.

Well what do you advise people to do

who are in the path of Irma?

Listen to whatever authorities on that matter have to say.

OK?

You know, you prepare for the worst.

Pray for the best.

And that's what I would do.

OK.

What can our viewers do to help those

that may not be in the path of this storm,

but they want to help?

Well, that's up to everybody else.

I don't mean to--

I don't mean to sound flippant here,

but go ahead and try-- you know, God gave me the ability

to forecast the weather.

That's where I'm going here.

And you know, as far as those things,

people have to pay attention to what charities

they could contribute to or whatever they're being told.

And go where their heart moves them.

OK.

Joe Bastardi of WeatherBELL.

Thank you so much for your time and your insights today, sir.

Thank you for having me.

I always enjoy coming on.

Thank you again.

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