Just over one week after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Houston, Texas area, another massive storm is poised to make landfall in the United States.
Hurricane Irma, which continues to brew in the Atlantic Ocean, has strengthened to a Category 5 storm. It has sustained winds of about 175 mph, meaning it’s currently stronger than Harvey was when it made landfall in Texas. Currently, the storm is moving westward at about 14 mph and is hitting the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Meteorologist Travis Herzog of ABC 13 News said it’s becoming “increasingly likely” that the hurricane will impact Florida in some way, while impacts elsewhere remain uncertain for the time being.
Irma comes as the Houston area is still recovering from Harvey, which brought rainfall totaling over 50 inches to the area, a U.S. record, and massive flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes and forced to temporary shelters. As of Tuesday, the death toll from Harvey has risen to at least 60 people.
So, is Irma projected to hit the Houston area as it continues to recover from Harvey?
According to Herzog and computer models, the answer right now is no, it should not impact the Houston area. Irma is supposed to make a sharp turn once it hits Cuba and head toward the Florida peninsula. As of now, no computer model shows Irma tracking so far west that it would hit Houston or anywhere in Texas.
A graphic showing that Irma’s projected path was headed for the Houston area has floated around on social media, causing many to be alarmed. However, it’s fake.
As Irma has continued to grow, Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for his state so that “local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm.”
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Scott said in a statement.
As of now, Irma is projected to make landfall in the U.S. on Saturday with tropical-storm-force winds making an appearance in the Florida peninsula area Friday evening and into Saturday evening.
For more updates on Irma, click here.