Hurricane Irma was one of the worst storms on record on the First Coast. On this 5th anniversary, we look back on this record storm.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We are now at the height of hurricane season, but also on a grim anniversary in the tropics. It has been five years since Hurricane Irma hit the state of Florida. It caused widespread flooding on the first coast, tornadoes and hurricane-force winds in the sunny state.
Check here the latest tropical forecast for the First Coast.
But even before hitting Florida, the storm already had a long track. It was the strongest storm to ever hit the Leeward Islands. It was also the strongest storm on record in the Atlantic Basin until Hurricane Dorian and for 37 straight hours produced winds of 185 mph. An all-time record.
In Florida, the storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane but weakened to a tropical storm on the first coast. Weakened doesn’t mean he was weak though.
Ahead of Irma, a northeasterly previously supported our rivers and inlets, then when the storm arrived it brought heavy rains, creating historic flooding. This includes the Saint Johns River where several record flood levels have been set.
According the National Hurricane Center’s tropical cyclone report on Irma. “Similar flooding occurred in Bradford County, where record flood levels were set at Alligator Creek, Hampton Lake, Lake Sampson and New River.”
Some people who experienced the storm said the floodwaters arrived quickly and gave people in the area little time to prepare. Water rushed through city streets reaching 5 feet deep in some places.
The report goes on to explain: “The [gauge] at the I-295 bridge on the south side of Jacksonville measured a peak water level of 5.3 feet MHHW, while gauges at Southbank Riverwalk in downtown Jacksonville and at Racy Point recorded levels of peak water of 4.9 feet MHHW and 4.0 feet MHHW, respectively.”
Separately, as Irma moved across the state of Florida it produced 21 tornadoes, 4 more were also reported in South Carolina. This includes a tornado that hit St. Augustine causing damage to several homes.
The previously mentioned report said. “Irma produced 25 confirmed tornadoes: 21 in Florida and 4 in South Carolina (Fig. 13). Of the tornadoes, 3 were EF-2 (on the Enhanced Fujita Scale), 15 were EF-1, and 7 were EF- 0. The majority of tornadoes occurred along the east coast of central and northern Florida. An EF-1 tornado touched down in St. Augustine, causing major damage to a cemetery”
Overall, it made a total of seven landings across the Caribbean and the United States, resulting in a total of 134 fatalities and causing over $70 billion in damage.
- September 6: Landing on Barbuda
- September 6: Landing in Saint-Martin
- September 6: Landing on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
- September 8: Landing on Little Inagua, Bahamas
- September 9: Landing near Cayo Romano, Cuba
- September 10: Landfall in Cudjoe Key, FL (the first major hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005)
- September 11th: Landing near Marco Island, FL
- 02:00 Irma passes between Tampa and Orlando as a Category 1 storm
- 8:00 a.m. Irma “weakens” into a tropical storm about 20 miles west of Gainesville
- 2:00 p.m. The center of the storm is moving over southern Georgia just west of Valdosta.
Visit here for a look back at Hurricane Bob in 1985.