ROANOKE, Va. – Hurricane Irma continues to strengthen as it moves closer to the Leeward Islands. The million dollar-question is where is Irma headed.
There are several scenarios for how Irma's future will play out, but one thing is known now. She is and will be a monster as she pushes west. Early Monday morning, Irma once again opened up her eye as maximum sustained winds increased to 120 mph.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center is for the center of Irma to skirt just north of Puerto Rico, putting Cuba in the crosshairs.
Beyond that is uncertain. Each one of those lines represents what a computer model "thinks" the outcome will be. There is a consensus that once Irma leaves Cuba, it will make a sharp turn north and head for Florida. The trend over the last couple of days is to keep that path moving to the south and west.
Hurricane hunters have now begun to investigate Irma and its surrounding steering environment, so over the next couple of days, more should be known about where Irma is headed.
Irma is being pushed west by a very strong Bermuda High. The one saving grace from a United States landfall is a trough or dip in the jet stream moving across the northern tier of country. Trends over the past couple of days though slides that trough off the east coast too far north and too fast to pick Irma up and send her packing. If this happens, an escape back out into the Atlantic won't be likely.
Cities from the eastern Gulf Coast to the Northeast of the United States should start getting prepared until the forecast becomes a little more clear.