Tampa & Hurricane Irma: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


National Hurricane Center

The city of Tampa, Florida, is preparing for Hurricane Irma after both the GFS and the European models have shifted to the west, eyeing the Bay.

Irma is still a Category 5 storm, currently located 80 miles northeast of Cabo Lucrecia, Cuba. She is moving WNW at 16 mph.

Here is what you need to know:

1. Irma Will Impact Tampa on Sunday & Monday

Hurricane Irma Tampa

Hurricane Irma is making her way to Florida and will be impacting the southern part of the state including Key West and Miami tomorrow. Once she hits land, she is expected to slow down — and she will weaken.

Irma will make her way into Tampa on Sunday. The worst of the storm is expected in the overnight hours (from Sunday into Monday). By Monday afternoon, conditions will begin to improve.

Tuesday’s forecast shows sunny skies.

2. Tampa Will Get 2″ to 6″ of Rain from Irma

Hurricane Irma Tampa

National Hurricane Center

Tampa will be getting about 2″ to 6″ of rain over two days, according to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent map (above). Areas closer to the coast are expected to get less rain (around 2″), while towns further inland will see closer to 6″.

The storm isn’t going to bring as much water to the area as it will wind. Localized flooding is possible, but local meteorologists have been clear about this storm being nothing like Hurricane Harvey, which dumped well over a foot of rain in Houston late last month. Harvey stalled over Houston, continuously dumping water on the city, which won’t be happening in Tampa; Irma is expected to move straight through without stopping.

3. How Bad Will the Wind Be? 

Hurricane Irma Tampa

Tampa is set to experience hurricane-force winds that will begin moving into the area on Sunday morning. According to the National Hurricane Center, sustained winds will be between 70 and 80 mph. Since the eye of the storm is set to be closer to Orlando as it moves through the state, Tampa will be on the east side which means that wind speeds will be lower than on the west side (also known as the “dirty side”) of Irma.

According to beloved Tampa meteorologist Denis Phillips, the winds in Tampa will be intense for a long period of time, but it’s nothing that the city can’t handle.

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“If [the Hurricane Center’s track] were to happen… Polk County, Highlands County would probably get winds of about 60 to 70 mph. Areas closer to the coast will probably get 30 to 40,” Phillips said during a Facebook Live on Thursday night.

“I think everybody is going to get tropical storm force winds,” he also said.

4. What Category Storm Will Irma Be When She Reaches Tampa? 

Irma is still a very powerful storm, but her wind speeds have lessened over the past 24 hours or so. She is expected to slow down slightly before she impacts southern Florida. She is expected to make landfall as a Category 4, but will weaken to a Category 2 before she reaches the Tampa Bay area.

5. What to Expect

Hurricane Irma Tampa

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A Category 2 hurricane is not nearly as bad as a Category 5, but it’s still going to bring nasty weather to Tampa.

“You’re going to have some trees down. You might have some pool cages damaged. Unless there’s a drastic change here, this is not going to be a devastating hurricane for the Bay area. With the [current tracks], we’re going to have 60 maybe 65 [mph winds] — we’ve gone through that before folks. Our typical late day storms go 60. A severe thunderstorm warning needs 60 mph winds,” Phillips said.

You can watch Phillips’ full take on Tampa and Hurricane Irma in the video below.

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