COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Many times when we look at tropical systems in the ocean, it is difficult to grasp the scope of how large they are.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the size of Irma, to places we are more familiar with here in Ohio.First, a few things to note about the strength of Hurricane Irma:

  • It is the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record outside of the Caribbean Sea/Gulf of Mexico at 185mph max winds
  • It is tied for the 2nd strongest Atlantic Hurricane on record based on max wind speed at 185mph (behind Allen 1980, at 190mph)
  • It is only the 5th Atlantic Basin storm to have peak winds of 185mph

    • Allen (1980), 190 mph
    • Wilma (2005), 185 mph
    • Gilbert (1988), 185 mph
    • Labor Day Hurricane (1935), 185 mph
  • The lowest recorded pressure so far (916mb) would not put it in the top 10 lowest yet.

How big is Irma?

On satellite, the storm extends well over 400 miles across.  To put that into terms locally, Irma would easily cover the entire state of Ohio.

It would also cover most of the mitt of Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Maryland.

How big is the eye of Irma?

Right now the eyewall is roughly 26 to 28 miles wide.  That would be an area covering roughly 570 square miles.  Franklin County covers about 544 square miles.

So if Hurricane Irma was directly over Franklin County, we would all see blue skies above.

How big is the hurricane force wind field with Irma?

Right now, hurricane force winds (74mph or greater) can be felt up to 60 miles from the center of the storm.  That is a large area, covering roughly 11,300 square miles.

Below all the areas in the red shading are within 60 miles of downtown Columbus.

How big is the tropical storm wind field with Irma?

Right now, tropical storm force winds (39mph or higher) are felt up to 175 miles from the center.  That is a very large area, about 96,200 square miles.

Below all the areas within 175 miles of downtown Columbus are shaded in yellow.

While size is not the most important thing when it comes to a hurricane, it does stress the importance of not focusing on a single line forecast.  Hurricanes are massive systems that can impact large areas, and are typically pretty slow moving when compared to other types of weather.

We will continue to slowly watch & monitor Major Hurricane Irma as she impacts the islands in the Caribbean, and eventually closes in on Florida.

If you have questions on Irma, Tropics, or any other weather, email me: