The first indication of what is now Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane recorded in the Atlantic, came last month. The National Hurricane Center noted an area of low pressure off the coast of Africa and issued advisories as it turned into a tropical storm and then a hurricane.
The NHC developed projections for where Irma would go, first anticipating that it would dip down toward South America, then across the Caribbean. Eventually, the projection suggested a rightward turn that would bring it up over Florida.
Irma’s strength is unusual. So is the fact that it follows shortly on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, a storm that drenched Texas with more rain than has ever been recorded from a single event in American history. So is the fact that, at the moment, Irma is one of three named hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, sandwiched between Hurricanes Katia and Jose.
This crop of an animation from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin shows all three storms spinning toward North America.
This four-storm system rolled into the region beginning in mid-August. Note the dates at the bottom of this animation — and notice how Harvey lingers over Texas before dissipating.
Harvey arrived on land at the tail end of the week of the eclipse. Satellite images from space show the moon’s shadow pass over the country as Harvey boils in the Gulf.
Irma, Jose and Katia are all expected to make landfall this weekend.