While the catastrophe associated with Tropical Storm Harvey continues to unfold across parts of Texas and Louisiana, a new potential (and long range) threat to land has appeared on the horizon. Irma, the ninth named storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season has developed in the far Eastern Atlantic. Forecasts call for gradual development for Irma and the cyclone is expected to become a hurricane over the next five days. Should Irma reach hurricane status, it will be the fourth hurricane of the season and also the fourth hurricane in a row after Franklin (Cat. 1), Gert (Cat. 2) and of course Harvey (Cat. 4).

So what does the future hold for Irma? The environment ahead of the system is neutral in terms of potential development which is why it should take a few days for Irma to become a hurricane. While upper level winds are expected to be light and favor development, Irma will move over cooler than optimal ocean waters with a drier environment, both factors the deter development. Global models are in fair agreement that Irma will move WNW and eventually WSW over the open Atlantic. Beyond that models diverge with a myriad of solutions by day 10. It is far too early to determine Irma’s ultimate fate but hopefully it will steer away from the United States as we deal with and recover from Harvey.

Speaking of Harvey, the cyclone made landfall again earlier today as a tropical storm. It will finally begin to move away from Texas and Louisiana by the end of the week allowing for recovering to fully begin. It will take time for the region to return to a sense of normalcy. While the lion’s share of the news coverage has been in the Houston Metro and the flooding, Harvey made landfall down the coast as a Category 4 hurricane and these areas are dealing with the wind and wave damage. Tens of thousands of people need help and its a dire situation for many.

The Red Cross has launched a massive response to this devastating storm and needs financial donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Volunteers from across the organization will be sent to help so if you’d like to do something other than give money, sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross where you are. The Red Cross responds to all disasters including house fires. Make sure every victim has a shoulder to lean on and volunteer. The Red Cross was also running critically low on blood donations so that is yet another way to help out.