NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One thing I learned from watching the National Hurricane Center for 40+ years is they are VERY conservative in making any major changes in their forecast track.
For the past day they have been nudging the track farther to the west with the latest now taking the center along the WEST coast of Florida.
Her forward speed has slowed to 12 mph and that may indicate she is about to make the turn to the north.
Satellite pictures (to me) are indicating Irma's circulation will begin interacting with the northern coast of Cuba during the next 12-24 hours and that (I believe) will disrupt the circulation a little hopefully weakening her down to a Cat. 3.
NHC doesn't believe so as they keep her a Cat. 4. Regardless, she will stay a major hurricane.
Here are my questions. 1) what happens if she keeps going westward into north Cuba? 2) What if she doesn't make the turn until around 87 west longitude? The models were in total agreement yesterday taking the center over Miami. Now they're all in agreement taking her towards Ft. Myers.
Could they keep shifting farther to the west tomorrow? Maybe, but before you start thinking could this be a problem for us … remember we have a cold front that has pushed into the Gulf and westerly winds dominate the northern Gulf.
IF Irma keeps going to the west and doesn't make the turn until tomorrow, her center/eyewall could stay just off Florida's west coast and then recurve back to the NE threatening Tampa Bay.
This would take the strongest winds away from the Gold Coast. Minor changes can make huge differences. It's still Florida's storm for now, but areas east of Panama City should pay attention as this westward shift could bring some impacts to them Sunday & Monday.