SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Here's a Wednesday tropical update with WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams.
The tropics are active with three systems developing all at once. Mercifully, only one of them threatens the U.S. and that is powerful Major Hurricane Irma.
Irma, a monster storm that continues to exceed expectations, barrels westward across the eastern Caribbean Islands on Wednesday morning with max winds topping 185 mph.
Irma is forecast to continue moving northwest remaining a major hurricane this week, finally arriving near the southern tip of Florida by this weekend. The National Hurricane Center then forecasts Irma to begin a northward turn.
It remains uncertain exactly when the northward turn will begin. Will it be when Irma's center is east of Florida? South of Florida? Or West of Florida? All three options are on the table. The best option for everyone would be east of Florida as it would bring the least impact to the U.S. The other two options are worse, pulling the storm into the eastern Gulf or having it rake the spine of Florida.
While we are still not forecasting any significant impact from Irma in South Mississippi, we are not out of the woods and will keep a vigilant eye on the latest developments for any changes.
IMPORTANT: It is not impossible for the track to shift further westward into the Gulf depending on how long it takes the powerful storm to slow its forward motion as it turns this weekend, but the majority of Wednesday's long-range models turn the storm either up Florida's peninsula or east of Florida.
"With winds of 185 mph, Irma is a massive storm," said WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams. "Going to be like a train or a big rig as it tries to make that turn."
"Those types of heavy vehicles do not turn on a dime when moving at high speeds," Williams continued. "We will need to watch for Irma to slow down so it can make that sharp turn this weekend. If it does not slow down, then the turn will not be as sharp and could allow for the storm's path to drift farther west into the Gulf."
We will not let our guards down. Now is the time to review your hurricane plan with your family and make sure your disaster supply kit is ready.
Also, Tropical Storm Katia formed in the Gulf on Wednesday morning and poses no threat to the U.S. and Tropical Storm Jose well east of Irma is expected to become a hurricane tonight but is also not considered a threat to the U.S. at this time.