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Hurricane Irma is now hammering parts of the Bahamas and Cuba as a Category 4 hurricane.

Hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for parts of Florida.

Hurricane warnings have also been issued for portions of the Bahamas and Cuba.

Irma will likely make a direct hit on South Florida this weekend as at least a Category 4 hurricane.

Parts of Georgia and the Carolinas could then be struck by Irma early next week.

Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, is now hammering parts of the Bahamas and Cuba, and will turn its fury on Florida in what is likely to be the state's strongest hurricane strike since Charley 13 years ago.

(MORE: Hurricane Central | Impacts In Caribbean)

Below is everything we know about Irma right now, including its latest status, along with potential forecast impacts in the U.S. and the Caribbean Islands.

Irma's Latest Status, Timing

The center of Irma is located about 270 miles east of Caribarien, Cuba, or just over 400 miles southeast of Miami, and is moving west-northwestward at about 14 mph.

Irma's maximum sustained winds have dipped a tad to 150 mph, still a formidably strong Category 4 hurricane, based on data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicating the hurricane is currently in an eyewall replacement cycle, during which a new outer eyewall replaces the old inner eyewall. 

 

Current Storm Status

Current Storm Status

The highest cloud tops, corresponding to the most vigorous convection, are shown in the brightest red colors. Clustering, deep convection around the center is a sign of a healthy tropical cyclone.

 

(MORE: Irma's Notable Extremes)

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Florida's Jupiter Inlet southward around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara.

A hurricane watch is also in effect for portions of Florida, from north of the Jupiter Inlet to the Flagler and Volusia county line, as well as north of Bonita Beach to Anclote River, along with the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas and Matanzas.

A storm surge warning has also been issued from Sebastian Inles to Venice and the Florida Keys. A storm surge watch is in effect from north of Sebastian Inlet to Ponce Inlet.

 

Watches and Warnings

Watches and Warnings

A watch means hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A warning means those conditions are expected within 36 hours.

 

Low wind shear, increased mid-level moisture and increasing oceanic heat content favor that Irma will remain a powerful hurricane (Category 4 or stronger) for the next several days, though some intensity fluctuations are likely at times. At this intensity, small deviations in wind speed will not significantly change impacts. A direct hit will be devastating.

For the next couple of days, Irma will move west-northwest on the south side of a ridge of high pressure called the Bermuda high, centered in the central Atlantic.

(INTERACTIVE MAP: Track Irma)

This weekend, Irma will begin to turn north in the direction of a departing southward dip in the jet stream that has set up in the eastern United States. The location of that northward turn will dictate where the most severe impacts from Irma occur in Florida and the southeastern United States.

It is now likely South Florida will see severe hurricane conditions starting this weekend. Major impacts could then spread through the rest of the Florida Peninsula, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Here's a general overview of the timing for impacts from Irma into next week.

Potential Impact Timing

  • Turks and Caicos: Conditions slowly improving Friday
  • Bahamas: Friday-this weekend arriving from east to west; hurricane-force winds should spread into the northwest Bahamas by Saturday; slow improvement in the southeast Bahamas by Saturday
  • Cuba: Now through Saturday; conditions improving Sunday
  • Florida: Saturday-Sunday, lingering into early Monday in north Florida; hurricane-force winds may arrive in South Florida and the Florida Keys by Saturday night
  • Georgia-Carolinas: Late Sunday-Monday

 

Projected Path

Projected Path

The red-shaded area denotes the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. Note that impacts (particularly heavy rain, high surf, coastal flooding) with any tropical cyclone may spread beyond its forecast path.

 

U.S. Forecast: Destructive Impacts Possible in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas

According to the latest National Hurricane Center's forecast, the center of Irma will be very close to South Florida by early Sunday morning, with conditions going downhill already during the day on Saturday.

(LATEST NEWS: 650,000 Ordered to Flee Miami-Dade in County's Largest Evacuation Ever)

The following life-threatening water-level rises (storm surge) are possible in South Florida Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center, if they occur at high tide:

  • Southwestern Florida from Captive to Cape Sable: 6 to 12 feet
  • Jupiter Inlet to Cape Sable, including the Florida Keys: 5 to 10 feet
  • Ponce Inlet to Jupiter Inlet: 3 to 6 feet
  • Venice to Captive: 3 to 6 feet

If you are told to evacuate a coastal location, please do so as instructed. The National Hurricane Center is issuing a potential storm surge flooding map that can be found here.

 

Forecast Storm-Surge Flooding

Forecast Storm-Surge Flooding

 

 

Depending on the exact track of Irma, locations in the hurricane warning in southern Florida could see devastating to catastrophic impacts, including structural damage and widespread power and communication outages from high winds. The National Weather Service said that areas in the hurricane warning could be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

After that, Irma's center is increasingly expected to track up the Florida peninsula Sunday into Monday, then into Georgia Monday night into Tuesday.

Irma's wind field is large. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

Therefore, dangerous surf and coastal flooding will likely exist throughout the southeastern U.S. coastline even well away from Irma's center this weekend into early next week. The magnitude of any storm-surge inundation along the rest of the Southeast coast will depend on the exact track of Irma.

Significant inland wind damage and rainfall flooding could occur in parts of central and north Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, as well.

All residents in the Florida Peninsula, Georgia and the Carolinas should monitor the progress of Irma closely.

For more detailed information on possible impacts in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, click here.

Forecast: Hispañiola, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Bahamas

Irma's center will likely track between the Bahamas and Cuba through Saturday, likely maintaining at least Category 4 intensity.

 

Hurricane-Force Wind Probabilities

Hurricane-Force Wind Probabilities

The shaded colors represent the probability of any one location experiencing hurricane-force winds from Irma in the next five days.

 

Reiterating the timing of the closest approach of the center we mentioned earlier:

  • Turks and Caicos: Conditions slowly improving Friday
  • Bahamas: Friday-this weekend arriving from east to west; hurricane-force winds should spread into the northwest Bahamas by Saturday; slow improvement in the southeast Bahamas by Saturday
  • Cuba: Now through Saturday; conditions improving Sunday

Most at risk of the worst impacts near the center are the north coast of Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas.

Life-threatening storm surge has arrived in the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, with some areas in this archipelago possibly receiving an inundation of 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels. This surge will be accompanied by destructive waves.

 

Rainfall Forecast

Rainfall Forecast 

Localized higher amounts are possible.

 

Up to 20 inches of rain is possible in parts of the Bahamas, Cuba and Florida. Here are the latest rainfall forecasts from the National Hurricane Center and Weather Prediction Center:

  • Southern Bahamas, northern Cuba, upper Florida Keys into southeast Florida: 10 to 15 inches, locally up to 20 inches
  • Eastern Florida into coastal Georgia: 8 to 12 inches, locally up to 16 inches
  • Southern Cuba: 4 to 8 inches, locally up to 12 inches
  • Western Florida Peninsula: 4 to 8 inches, locally up to 12 inches
  • Lower Florida Keys: 4 to 8 inches
  • Much of Georgia, South Carolina, and western North Carolina: 3 to 6 inches
  • Turks and Caicos: additional 2 to 4 inches possible
  • Dominican Republic and Haiti: additional 1 to 4 inches

(MORE: Beware 'I' Hurricanes)

Check back with weather.com for updates on Irma through the weekend for the very latest. We will be updating our coverage of Irma frequently based on the latest forecast guidance for its future track and intensity.

Recap: Leeward Islands Battered

The Leeward Islands were pounded by Irma late Tuesday into Wednesday.

Irma's 185-mph winds made it the strongest hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands region, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University. That beat out the Okeechobee Hurricane (1928) and David (1979), which both had 160-mph winds at their peak in the Leeward Islands.

Irma first passed over Barbuda, an island of 1,600 residents, with gusts of at least 155 mph overnight into Wednesday morning. A storm surge of about eight feet was also recorded.

Early Wednesday morning, the eye of Irma then moved over St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and near Anguilla, where sustained winds of 117 mph were measured.

(LATEST NEWS: Irma Slams Caribbean)

 

 

Hurricane-force winds and heavy rain were reported in the Virgin Islands. A wind gust of 131 mph was reported at Buck Island, and a gust of 87 mph was measured on St. Thomas Wednesday, Sept. 6.

In addition, a 111-mph gust was reported on Culebra.