Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 4 storm by the National Hurricane Center Friday morning, but it’s still on track to cause devastation in Florida.
Hurricane conditions have already pummeled the Dominican Republic, parts of Haiti, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and others. Irma is moving through the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday and heading between the Bahamas and the northern coast of Cuba.
From there, Irma still seems likely to hit South Florida by early Sunday, according to the 5 a.m. projections by the National Hurricane Center. The track is now predicted to go through the center of Florida, possibly affecting both the east and west coast of the state.
The storm’s possible path varies after that, but the National Hurricane Center’s latest prediction has it traveling through the center of Georgia Monday and Tuesday and up through Tennessee by Wednesday, skirting South Carolina and Alabama.
A storm surge warning – meaning life-threatening rising water is expected in the area within 36 hours – is in effect for the Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach and the Florida Keys.
A storm surge watch – meaning life-threatening rising water is possible within the area within 48 hours – is in effect for areas north of Jupiter Inlet to the Sebastian Inlet and north of Bonita Beach to Venice.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for:
- Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
- Florida Keys
- Lake Okeechobee
- Florida Bay
- Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
- Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, and Villa Clara
- Central Bahamas
- Northwestern Bahamas
Hurricane watches are in effect for:
- North of Jupiter Inlet to Sebastian Inlet
- North of Bonita Beach to Anna Maria Island
- Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas and Matanzas
Maximum sustained winds are around 155 miles per hour and Irma is likely to remain a Category 4 hurricane for “the next couple of days,” according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane winds extend up to 70 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extend up to 185 miles.