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.
Here is what you need to know:
Timing: Hurricane Irma will make her way into Tampa on Sunday. The worst of the storm is expected in the overnight hours. By Monday afternoon, conditions will begin to improve. By Tuesday, the sun will be back out.
Expected Rainfall: Tampa will experience 2″ to 6″ of rain from Irma. The storm isn’t going to bring as much water to the area as it will rain. 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 last month.
How Bad Will the Wind Be? 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.
“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.
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.
What to Expect: 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.