MIAMI, Florida- With 185 mile mile per hour sustained winds, Category 5 Hurricane Irma has now become one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record. It has easily surpassed Katrina and Andrew (175 mph) and has tied Wilma. It’s also massive in size, roughly as big as the state of Montana.

NHS says the  potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, continues to head toward the Leeward Islands. Those in the easternmost Leeward Islands must finish their preparations. Irma is centered at 2 p.m. AST/EDT abut 180 miles (290 km ) east of the Antigua, moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue today, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest tonight. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma is forecast to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands tonight and early Wednesday.

As indicated above, reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 185 mph (295 km/h) with higher gusts – an extremely dangerous category5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Somefluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, butIrma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricaneduring the next couple of days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km). The latest minimum central pressure reported by reconnaissance aircraft is 926 mb (27.34 inches).

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti, Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Southeastern Bahamas. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Guadeloupe and Dominica. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona and for Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince.

Since Irma is a large hurricane, users are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track since tropical-storm and hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge extend far from the center. Residents in the Leeward Islands should complete their preparations very soon as the weather will begin to deteriorate over the easternmost Leeward Islands later this afternoon.
The next complete advisory will be issued at 5 p.m. AST/EDT by the National Hurricane Center – www.hurricanes.gov

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A Hurricane Warning has been issued for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Guadeloupe, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica.

Hurricane Irma is centered as of 11 a.m. AST/EDT about 560 miles (905 km) east of the Leeward Islands, moving toward the west-southwest near 14 mph (22 km/h). A turn toward the west is expected later today, followed by a west-northwestward turn late Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night and early Wednesday. Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area by Tuesday night, with tropical storm conditions expected b late Tuesday. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by late Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts – a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening through Tuesday night is forecast. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme northern Leeward Islands within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma. Irma is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across the Leeward Islands, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches across the northern Leeward Islands. These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Users are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track since strong winds and heavy rainfall extend well away from the center. In addition, average NHC track errors are about 175 and 225 statute miles at days 4 and 5, respectively.

The next complete advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at 5 p.m. AST/EDT with an intermediate advisory at 2 p.m. AST/EDT – www.hurricanes.gov

 

 A NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft has found Hurricane Irma a little stronger this morning. Data from the aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts – a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Additional strengthening through Tuesday night is forecast. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles (45 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).

Irma is centered as of 8 a.m. AST/EDT about 610 miles (980 km) east of the Leeward Islands, moving toward the west-southwest near 14 mph (22 km/h). A turn toward the west is expected later today, followed by a west-northwestward turn late
Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Irma will move closer to the Leeward Islands through Tuesday and then be near the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night.

A Hurricane Watch continues for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy. Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area by Tuesday night, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Tuesday. Interests in the remainder of the Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic should monitor the progress of Irma. Additional hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings will likely be required for portions of this area later this morning or this afternoon.

The NHC says users are reminded to not focus on the exact forecast track since strong winds and heavy rainfall extend well away from the center. In addition, average NHC track errors are about 175 and 225 statute miles at days 4 and 5, respectively.

The next complete advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at 11 a.m. AST/EDT – www.hurricanes.gov