BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. (WDTV) - Hurricane Irma is an extremely strong hurricane for the Atlantic Ocean. Winds have been as strong as 185mph! It appears that this storm will be coming to our area. The good news is that it will be nowhere near that strong when it arrives.
As of late Wednesday, it looks like the path of Irma will be up the east coast eventually turning northwest toward West Virginia. There are three things of note for its evolution.
First, it will take a path over the ocean before it makes landfall. This means that it won't weaken AS FAST as it moves closer to our area. Hurricanes form and feed off of warm ocean water above 80 degrees (F). Warm water puts more water vapor (water in gas form) into the air. This air is sucked up into the thunderstorms of the hurricane and keep it strong with the energy (water changing from gas to liquid phase).
This means it will be stronger for a longer period of time before it heads our way. This translates into it POSSIBLY being strong when it gets to our area. As opposed to Harvey who took a much longer path over land before arriving in WV.
Second, it has a relatively short distance between landfall on the east coast and arrival in our area. This goes back to the previous point. The shorter the distance between landfall and arriving in NCWV, the stronger the storm COULD be. Land is dry and does not have much to offer a hurricane in terms of water vapor (fuel to keep it strong). While Irma will weaken after landfall, it will most likely still have a lot of wind and rain to get rid of before it comes to an end.
Third, and the best point for those hoping for little wind and rain is what Hurricane Irma will run into when it gets to the Mountain State. Cool and dry Canadian air! If tropical storm systems (tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) feed off of humid air (supplied by the warm waters of the ocean), they get destroyed by cooler, less humid air. That is what will be in place this weekend and Monday in our area.
Just like Harvey, Irma will mix itself to death in or around West Virginia. High pressure from Canada (an air mass of cool, dry air) will make for a nice, sunny, dry weekend! This will act to weaken and eventually destroy Irma, right over our heads. The same fate as Harvey.
The BIGGEST QUESTION remains: How fast will this process happen, and how much energy (aka, wind and rain) will it take from Irma before affecting our area?
We'll continue to iron our these details as we get closer to next week.
Arrival time for this hurricane, or whatever it is when it finally makes it, it late Monday, but more likely Tuesday.
***This information is based on the storm taking the path discussed above and in the graphics. If that changes, the forecast could also change. It is still possible the hurricane changes where it wants to go, and therefore how it affects NCWV.