Irma has strengthened to a category 4 storm, and Gov. Scott has declared a state of emergency for all 67 Florida counties.
A hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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The storm is nearing the Leeward Islands. Beyond that we’re confident in a track near and likely just north of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Irma will likely be near Cuba and the Bahamas next weekend.
As of 11 p.m., Irma is about 410 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
Gov. Scott has declared a state of emergency for Florida, to get the state ready for Irma.
"Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridians. Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm.
"In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared. This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape."
A hurricane warning is in effect for:
- Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
- Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
- Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
- British Virgin Islands
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
- British Virgin Islands
Irma is a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds 140 mph. Some strengthening is forecast through Tuesday night.
Irma is being suppressed by a ridge of high pressure to its north. If it weren’t for that high pressure, Irma already would have been moving northward and totally missed the U.S.
But that high pressure is expected to hold strong for another few days which will keep Irma on a path westward. Beyond that time there will be a ‘weakness’ in that high pressure as a couple cold fronts will pass through the eastern U.S. resulting in lower pressures.
Hurricanes, by their nature, want to move poleward. So given the chance Irma will move north if it has an opportunity to go toward an area of lower pressure.
The timing will be key to determine who could potentially get hit with Irma and what impacts could be felt. It really comes down to a matter of how far west does Irma go before moving north.
But since it’s still 6 to 7 days away, the fine details will be very difficult to pinpoint until we get closer.
Make sure to watch our Bay News 9 Tropical Updates each hour at :49
Remember that the spaghetti model plot does not indicate the strength of a system or even development at all. It only predicts where this broad area of low pressure is expected to go.