Hurricane Irma forecast zeros in on Florida

- The Friday evening update on Hurricane Irma shifted the storm’s track slightly west yet again, and suggested the storm would regain its Category 5 intensity before making landfall along South Florida.

Friday afternoon, Irma was located about 350 miles southeast of Miami. It was a strong Category 4 storm with max winds of 155 mph, but some fluctuations in intensity are expected over the next day or two.

Irma is a very large storm, roughly 450 miles wide. Hurricane-force winds extend out up to 60 miles from the center. Tropical storm-force winds extend out up to 160 miles from the center. Irma is currently moving west at 12 mph and is expected to make landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday morning before making its way north through the state.

Preparations should be wrapped up today in South Florida, and no later than tomorrow afternoon for central and northern portions of the state.

FORECAST TIMELINE

For the FOX 13 viewing area, expect tropical storm-force winds to begin moving in from the south on Sunday morning. The worst of the weather will arrive Sunday night and last through Monday morning. During that time, you can expect hurricane-force wind gusts (more than 74 mph) with winds out of the east-northeast.

As the storm moves north on Monday morning, expect winds to become onshore. This will result in a storm surge of 2 to 4 feet along the west-central Florida coast. Unfortunately, this will occur around high tide, resulting in a storm tide of up to 6 feet in spots.

Expect total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches and widespread power outages.

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE HERE?

From FOX 13 chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto:

Everyone wants to know, "I live in ___________, what will I get?" The answer is, everyone is going to have hurricane conditions beginning as soon as Sunday afternoon. There will be stronger winds in areas south of Tampa because the storm will be weakening as it moves north.

The storm is so big, and the wind field is so expansive, that strong and sometimes damaging winds will be felt over a large area.

I'M THINKING ABOUT LEAVING, WHERE SHOULD I GO?

From FOX 13 chief meteorologist Paul Dellegatto:

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The answer is, make sure you are not going from one lousy situation to another lousy situation. If you stay in your well-built concrete block home, chances are on Monday things will be a mess and you won't have power. If you drive 30 miles to a friend’s house, chances are on Monday things will be a mess and you won't have power.

If you are told to evacuate, you evacuate. If you live in a mobile home, I would shelter in a well-built structure. If you want to get out of dodge, head north, but make sure you have confirmed a place to stay. Hotel options are limited.

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