No predictions, no projections (there are many Diarists on this site far more knowledgeable about such things). Just a data point some future generations may consider as they pore over the climate-related carnage wrought in the 21st Century:
Irma has intensified to a “potentially catastrophic” Category 5 storm. The hurricane is packing winds of a whopping 185 miles per hour, making it the most powerful hurricane to form in the Atlantic Ocean since satellite observations began.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s latest bulletin, the storm is moving west at about 14 miles per hour with maximum wind speeds of 185 mph, with some higher gusts. Irma is already closing in on the record for strongest hurricanes ever, and the first since 2005 (Wilma) to reach the wind threshold of 185 miles per hour. The hurricane is also tearing through extremely warm waters, meaning its wind speeds could intensify still.
The chart below was made at 9:00 am this morning. Since that time, Irma has risen to the second spot from the top:
Hurricane Allen is the leader overall (190 mph maximum wind speed) but since it happened in 1980, its peak intensity was apparently not calculated by satellite, but by stone knives and bear skins.
Irma is something no one has ever seen before:
Taylor Trogdon is a Senior Scientist at the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida.
[Note: From the comments it appears that the wind speed of Hurricane Allen was measured by NOAA P3-Orion aircraft, not “stone knives and bear skins,” as originally indicated. The same type of aircraft would be utilized to determine Irma’s wind speed, although it would be equipped with vastly superior technology].