Major Hurricane Irma targets south Florida

Major Hurricane Irma targets south Florida

Across the Corn Belt, cool conditions persist. Low temperatures early Thursday morning locally dipped below 40° in the upper Midwest, where scattered frost was reported. Meanwhile, clouds and showers linger in the vicinity of the Great Lakes.

On the Plains, dry weather favors fieldwork and summer crop maturation. Fieldwork includes harvest activities and early-season winter wheat planting efforts. In Montana, for example, 2% of the 2018 winter wheat crop had been planted by September 3. Warmth has returned to the drought-stricken northern High Plains.

In the South, preparations for Hurricane Irma continue in Florida and elsewhere along the southern Atlantic Coast. Irma was centered 165 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island, moving toward the west-northwest at 17 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 180 mph, down slightly from Wednesday. Currently, cool, dry weather covers the South, except for isolated showers in Florida.

In the West, poor air quality and smoky conditions are a concern across large sections of California and the Northwest, and dozens of wildfires remain active from the Pacific Coast States to the northern Rockies. A few rain showers are developing in the Northwest, but lightning strikes could start new wildfires.

Irma remains a deadly Category 5 hurricane—and one of the strongest storms on record in the Atlantic Basin. The powerful storm should reach southern Florida on Saturday night or early Sunday as a major hurricane with exact impacts in the southeastern U.S. to be determined by the strength of the system before, during, and after landfall, as well as the timing of Irma’s turn toward the north. Meanwhile, Hurricane Katia will not pose a threat to the U.S., but should drift westward and make landfall along Mexico’s gulf coast late this week. Meanwhile, above normal temperatures will persist in much of the West, but an increase in shower activity may locally aid wildfire containment efforts. Elsewhere, cool conditions will linger in the Southeast, while warmer weather will gradually overspread the Plains and upper Midwest.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures in the Southeast and lower Midwest, while warmer-than-normal weather should prevail across the West and the northwestern half of the Plains. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation in the West and wet weather along the Atlantic Seaboard—courtesy of Irma—should contrast with mostly dry weather across large sections of the Plains, Midwest, and mid-South.

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