Watches in place for southern Florida

Irma7pmHOLT, Fla., Sept. 7, 2017, 9 p.m.–Tensions continue to build as Hurricane Irma moves closer to the southern coast of Florida.

Hurricane watches have been issued for south Florida and the Florida Keys with warnings for the islands in the Bahamas and the northern shore of Cuba, including Guantanamo.


The western panhandle can expect tropical-storm-force winds Sunday or Monday. (National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the eye and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles, making the storm about 370 miles wide, not taking into account the outer weather bands.

Holt and the surrounding area can expect tropical-storm-force winds to reach here between Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area in south Florida by Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Irma’s wind strength has lessened a bit to 175 mph, down from 185 mph, but is still a category five hurricane.

According to the NHC, Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph and is expected to continue in that direction for the next couple of days with some decrease in forward speed.

On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to move between Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands this evening, according to the NHC. The core of the hurricane will then move between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day or two.

The NHC predicts Irma’s intensity to stay steady along its current track for the next three days. After that, wind shear may weaken the storm a bit, possibly to a category four, before it makes landfall.

Storm surge predictions

Portions of south Florida and the Florida Keys are under a storm surge watch.

According to the NHC, there’s a chance of direct impacts in portions of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, but it’s too early to tell to what extent and where.

Deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds with storm surge and large, destructive waves.

Surge-related flooding depends on timing of the surge and tidal cycle and can vary greatly over short distances.

Water is expected to reach 5-to-10 feet above ground from Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys if the peak surge occurs at high tide, according to the NHC.


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