Forecasters Warn East Coasters — Even Up To NYC — To Be Ready For Irma

by Tara Merrigan
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Hurricane Irma swirled over the Caribbean, bringing devastation to islands such as St. Martin, Barbuda, and Anguilla. As a Category 5 storm with winds of 185 m.p.h., Irma has caused many to take precautions. Florida, where Irma is expected to reach this weekend, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday. According to the most recent meteorological predictions, Irma could possibly make its way north after hitting Florida, and reach the Carolinas. But will Hurricane Irma reach New York? As of right now, weather experts say it's too soon to tell.

Currently, meteorologists think it's likely that Irma will hit Florida's mainland, but even that is contingent on weather patterns. "Direct impacts from wind, storm surge, and rainfall are possible in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula beginning later this week and this weekend,” the National Hurricane Center said, according to Vox. “However, given the forecast uncertainty at these time ranges, it is too soon to specify the location and magnitude of these impacts.”

Nonetheless, most models show the storm system affecting Florida significantly. “You’d be hard pressed to find any model that doesn’t have some impact on Florida,” said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami. The National Hurricane Center has also said that Irma is a "potentially catastrophic" storm.

According to NPR, Irma is most likely going to near the Florida mainland and turn northward, making its way up the East Coast — a prediction that differs from earlier ones, which expected the hurricane to strike Florida and continue on to the Gulf of Mexico. But, according to The Weather Channel, where exactly Irma goes after it turns northward is unclear. However, meteorologists have warned people who live on the East Coast of the U.S. to be vigilant — and though they haven't mentioned New York specifically yet, it's worthwhile to keep an eye on the storm if you're a New Yorker who lives near the Atlantic Ocean.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is the strongest storm ever recorded outside of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Therefore, officials are taking precautions. “The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rossello said, according to The Guardian. “A lot of infrastructure won’t be able to withstand this kind of force.”

If Irma were to strike New York, the regions of the state near the Atlantic Ocean would likely be better capable to handle Irma than they were in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy struck the state, submerging significant portions of New York City under water. 48 people in New York died as a result of Hurricane Sandy.