EDIT AT 8 PM EDT:
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the coastal keys of Cuba last night as a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160-165 mph. Since then, it has continued to batter Cuba all day, but is now slowly pulling away from Cuba toward it’s final approach to Florida.
I cannot stress how serious this storm is. The track has shifted toward a more west coast track (SW FL landfall, track northward up the Peninsula). However, because of the sheer massive size of this storm it is likely to produce significant wind damage across the state of Florida (catastrophic near the eye in SW FL) as well as potentially significant to catastrophic storm surge impacting much of the central and southwest FL coasts. For the city of Tampa, this may be the most destructive hurricane in many decades. In addition, very heavy rain is expected (in progress) capable of producing flash flooding as well as an elevated tornado threat (in progress). I will update this page further and will be sharing more frequent info via Twitter and Facebook.
This is forecast information for the Florida Peninsula related to Hurricane Irma. I will update and repost this page periodically through Sunday. I have LOTS of friends in Florida even though I have never stepped foot in the state, so I have much concern for them and their families. If you know anyone in evacuation areas or who haven’t prepared for the storm’s impacts, tell them to do so now. The time is running out. Irma will likely make landfall with maximum sustained winds of at least Category 4 strength (130 mph+).
8 pm EDT-
Maximum Sustained Winds: 120 mph, gusts up to 150 mph. (Category 3)
Hurricane-Force Wind Field (74 mph+ sustained): 70 miles from center.
Tropical Storm-Force Wind Field (39 mph+ sustained): 195 miles from center.
Surge could reach up to 10-15 feet in some portions of Southwest Florida. Other areas may be up to 4-10 feet of surge. Of note, Tampa Bay may see 5-8 feet of surge and the Naples area may see the 10-15 ft water rise above dry ground (if at high tide). The storm surge threat is potentially significant and life-threatening. The risk is extensive surge is high over both SW and SE FL. I list storm surge first because it is the number one greatest killer in hurricanes. For Storm Surge Guidance see the NHC. (great interactive map I highly recommend): HERE
South Florida (Map):
Timing: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds) overspreading the region from the south this evening. Hurricane conditions (sustained winds) will arrive from the south beginning early Sunday morning. Wind gusts will exceed well over 100 mph across Southwest FL (over 85 mph Southeast), with stronger winds from onshore flow along the coastal areas. Winds will be stronger in SE FL if the center makes landfall even a few tens of miles farther east than forecast. The highest winds will be in the eye wall which is expected to move over portions of SW FL. At Category 4 intensity, gusts will exceed 150 mph in the eyewall.
Central Florida (Map):
Timing: Tropical storm conditions expected to overspread region from the south beginning midday Sunday. Hurricane conditions are likely from the south beginning as early as Sunday evening. Wind gusts will exceed 100 mph particularly in western areas (up to 85 mph over central and 75 mph over eastern locations), with the most intense gusts (115 mph+) in areas within the eyewall of the northward advancing hurricane.
North Florida Peninsula and far South Georgia (Map):
Timing: Tropical storm conditions expected to overspread region from the south beginning late-Sunday night. Hurricane conditions are possible on the Florida side, to the south and west (northwest of Gainesville, southeast of Tallahassee) early-Monday morning. Wind gusts will exceed 75 mph, with (in Florida) isolated gusts to 90 mph in any remaining organized eyewall of Irma in western areas (up to 65 mph over the eastern locations).
The tornado threat related to the advance of Hurricane Irma is in progress and will continue to spread from south to north across the Florida Peninsula through Sunday. Tropical cyclone tornadoes can spin up quickly and move fast. Be ready to take shelter when warnings are issued in the rain bands. See the Storm Prediction Center for additional info.
Much of South Florida is expecting 15-20 inches of storm total rainfall from Irma. The rest of the peninsula can expect 6-15 inches of rainfall. Flash flooding and urban flooding will be problems from Irma.
Please keep track of the latest forecasts from your local TV meteorologists, local National Weather Office, as well as the National Hurricane Center.
–Meteorologist Nick Humphrey