Southwest Florida is back on alert as Hurricane Irma’s track has shifted westward once again.
Forecasters and meteorologists have been warning for days that forecast tracks have significant error when several days out, and now recent models are bringing the possibility of Irma’s wrath closer to home.
According to the 5 p.m. forecast advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Irma remains an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, moving to the west-northwest at 16 mph.
The storm’s center is currently 40 miles south of Grand Turk Island.
Hurricane Watches are in place for much of south Florida, extending to Bonita Beach on the west coast, and Jupiter Inlet on the east coast, as well as the Florida Keys.
Current forecast tracks have Irma’s most likely impact running into the south of the state, tracking up the center of the Florida Peninsula. Previous tracks had been leaning toward an impact around Miami, but models starting this afternoon have been moving the point of impact westward.
Hurricane force winds extend 70 miles from the center, with tropical storm force winds extending 185 miles from the center.
Forecasters are expecting that Irma will be at least a Category 4 hurricane when it makes impact, most likely on Sunday.
“The environment along the future track of Irma is favorable for the hurricane to maintain most of its current intensity, although some fluctuations are likely due to eyewall replacement cycles which are difficult to predict. There are no obvious reasons why Irma should not remain a powerful major hurricane for the next 3 days while it is heading for Florida or its adjacent surroundings,” NHC forecaster Lixion Avila wrote.
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