NHC: Irma finally turning [updated with 8 a.m. map]

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Irma, a category four storm, is expected to remain a major hurricane at its closest approach to the Tampa Bay area, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC)

HOLT, Fla., Sept 10, 2017, 7 a.m.–The National Hurricane Center announced Hurricane Irma has made its long-awaited turn.

For the next 36-to–48 hours, the hurricane will head generally north-northwest.

Irma, a category four storm, is expected to remain a major hurricane at its closest approach to the Tampa Bay area.

Regardless of the exact track of the center, the NHC states Irma will bring life-threatening wind impacts to much of Florida.

Hurricane model track guidance has changed little since the last advisory, according to the NHC, and the new forecast is very close to the previous one.

The eye should move across the lower Florida Keys in the next few hours, then near or over the southwestern coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight.

The hurricane is expected to track almost parallel to the west coast of Florida. That makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly where Irma will turn inland, according to the NHC.

Some additional strengthening could occur during the next several hours. However, wind shear is increasing over Irma and is expected to become strong within 24 hours. This, combined with land interaction, should cause at least a steady weakening from 12-to-36 hours.

Today, Irma is expected bring life-threatening wind and storm surge to the Florida Keys, southwestern Florida and along much of Florida’s west coast as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, according to the NHC.

The threat of catastrophic storm-surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida where 10-to-15 feet of water above ground level is expected.

Irma is expected to produce very heavy rain and inland flooding. Total rain accumulations of 15-to-20 inches with isolated amounts of 25 inches are expected over the Florida Keys through Sunday evening.

Across the peninsula, Irma is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 8-to-15 inches with isolated amounts of 20 inches.

Closer to home

Okaloosa county is still under a wind advisory beginning today at 1 p.m. through 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Forecast for the area calls for a 30 percent chance of rain today, with 50 percent tonight and increasing to 80 percent tomorrow. Temperatures are expected to be in the 70s.

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