5A: #Irma Rips Through Cuba, Now Takes Aim at Florida

posted by Nathalie Rodriguez - 

The National Hurricane Center says Irma has weakened slightly to a Category 4 hurricane, as it moves over the Camaguey Archipelago of Cuba.Irma had briefly regained Category 5 strength late Friday, but now has maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (249 kph). 

The hurricane is about 245 miles (394 kilometers) from Miami and moving about 12 mph (19.3 kph) toward the west-northwest.In the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is a Category 4 hurricane, about 190 miles (306 kilometers) east-southeast of The Northern Leeward Islands, moving toward the islands at 13 mph (20.92 kph) with winds reaching 150 mph.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia made landfall late Friday north of Tecolutla, Mexico and weakened to a tropical storm. By early Saturday morning it was 135 miles (217 kilometers) south of Tampico, Mexico, moving sluggishly at only 2 mph (3.2 kph) near the Sierra Madre Mountains with maximum winds of 40 mph (64.4 kph). It was expected to weaken further throughout the day.

At 500 AM EDT (0900 UTC), the center of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 22.5 North, longitude 78.8 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph (19 km/h).  A turn toward the northwest is expected by late today, with a turn toward the north-northwest expected tonight or on Sunday.  On the forecast track, the center of Irma will move near the north coast of Cuba today, near the Florida Keys Sunday morning, and then near the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon.

Maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts.  Irma is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it approaches Florida.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 930 mb (27.47 inches).

Nathalie Rodriguez

Nathalie Rodriguez

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