What you need to know about a category 5 hurricane

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —Hurricane season is upon us. Hurricane Harvey was the first major storm to impact the United States this year and now residents of Florida are bracing for what could be the worst storm they’ve seen in years.

Hurricane Irma has broken Atlantic records and it has not even made landfall in the United States yet. It’s a storm that is expected to cause catastrophic damage due to the intense winds it is packing.

4 Warn Meteorologist Mike Cejka had this to say, “This is a strong category 5 storm, Irma that we’re dealing with. Traveling through the Caribbean and eventually becoming a threat for the US.”

And that threat is looking greater and greater. Computer models have been wobbling back and forth with its expected track. Either way, east or west coast of Florida, wherever it makes landfall, it will be intense. Cejka said, “Usually the hype of damage with even better structures, roofs are ripped off, walls collapse, I mean this is what’s typical of wind speeds with winds of 185 mph.”

Winds that are sustained for long periods of time that are that strong are hard to fathom. He said, “With Irma, the estimates in the eye wall are 185 mph wind speeds and 225 mph gusts, are equivalent of wind speeds encountered in an EF5 tornado!”

Usually hurricanes are quick to lose their intensity once moving over land, but with this storm, because the water is so warm, it will be easier to maintain. Cejka explained why. He said, “It’s going to be traveling over some of the warmest waters in the hemisphere actually. We have bath water over the SE parts of Florida. Water is 88 or 89 degrees.”

The last time Florida saw a storm of this magnitude move through was back in 1992 with Hurricane Andrew. Cejka remembers that storm and says this one could be equally as bad. He said, “The damage from this storm is going to be equally as catastrophic as what was encountered in Andrew if not even more.”

To give you an idea about Irma’s power, an MIT hurricane expert estimates that the storm holds about 7 trillion watts of energy.  That’s about twice the energy of all bombs used in World War 2. If you have family or friends in Florida it is important they take the warnings for this hurricane seriously.

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