HOLT, Fla., Sept. 8, 2017, 6 p.m. CDT–The National Hurricane Center forecast brings Irma near south Florida as a category 4 hurricane.
Interaction with Cuba will probably not result in any relevant change in intensity, according to the NHC.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.
However, gradual weakening is expected after making landfall in Florida as land and wind shear interact with the storm.
While not in the cone of predictability, the western panhandle will likely experience tropical-storm-force winds or higher as Irma makes its way up through the peninsula.
Irma’s forward speed has slowed to 12 mph and is now traveling west. The storm is expected to continue west for the next 12-to-24 hours before moving north-northwest toward Florida late Saturday. The precise moment of this turn is still uncertain, according to the NHC.
Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, according to the NHC, and will bring life-threatening wind impacts to much of the state regardless of the exact track of the center.
Life-threatening storm surge in south Florida and the Florida Keys is expected during the next 36 hours as well as significant storm surge flooding along the southwest coast of Florida where 8-to-12 feet of above-ground-level flooding is possible.
Irma is expected to produce very heavy rain and inland flooding, according to the NHC. Total rain accumulations of 8-to-15 inches, with isolated amounts of 20 inches, are expected over the Florida Keys and much of the Florida peninsula through Tuesday night. The highest amounts are expected over the eastern Florida peninsula and upper Florida Keys.
Irma will likely bring periods of heavy rain to much of Georgia, South Carolina and western North Carolina early next week as it continues its travel inland.