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Hurricane Irma intensifies to Category 5 with 185 mph winds

Hurricane Irma powers up to a category 5 storm with 185 mph winds. (WPEC)

Hurricane Irma is now an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 185 miles-per-hour, according to the 2 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The Leeward Islands are bracing for impact as Hurricane Irma approaches.

The storm strengthened further Monday as it passed through very good conditions for development.

The latest National Hurricane Center forecast track places South Florida into the cone of possible impact. Long range models suggest that much of the Florida peninsula may be in the path of Irma.

For the latest information and maps, visit our Hurricane Center.

Here is the latest information from the National Hurricane Center:

POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE IRMA HEADING

TOWARD THE LEEWARD ISLANDS...

...PREPARATIONS SHOULD BE RUSHED TO COMPLETION IN THE HURRICANE

WARNING AREA...

SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION

-----------------------------------------------

LOCATION...16.8N 58.4W

ABOUT 225 MI...365 KM E OF ANTIGUA

ABOUT 230 MI...370 KM ESE OF BARBUDA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...180 MPH...285 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 270 DEGREES AT 14 MPH...22 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...931 MB...27.50 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

--------------------

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The government of the Bahamas has issued a Hurricane Watch for the

Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, including the

Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the

Ragged Islands.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the north coast of Haiti from

the border of the Dominican Republic westward to Le Mole St.

Nicholas. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from south of Le

Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...

* Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis

* Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten

* Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy

* British Virgin Islands

* U.S. Virgin Islands

* Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...

* Guadeloupe

* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with

Haiti

* Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le

Mole St. Nicholas

* Turks and Caicos Islands

* Southeastern Bahamas

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...

* Guadeloupe

* Dominica

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...

* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona

* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected

somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued

36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-

force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

dangerous. In this case, for some of easternmost islands, the

hurricane conditions are expected within the next 12 to 24 hours.

Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to

completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area in this case within 36

hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Interests elsewhere in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as

well as Cuba, the central and northwestern Bahamas, and Florida

should monitor the progress of Irma.

For storm information specific to your area in the United States,

including possible inland watches and warnings, please monitor

products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast

office. For storm information specific to your area outside the

United States, please monitor products issued by your national

meteorological service.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK

------------------------------

At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located

near latitude 16.8 North, longitude 58.4 West. Irma is moving toward

the west near 14 mph (22 km/h), and this general motion is expected

to continue today, followed by a turn toward the west-northwest

tonight. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma

is forecast to move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands

tonight and early Wednesday.

Reports from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that

the maximum sustained winds are near 180 mph (285 km/h) with higher

gusts. Irma is a an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane on the

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity

are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to

remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple

of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the

center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles

(260 km).

The latest minimum central pressure reported by reconnaissance

aircraft is 931 mb (27.50 inches).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

----------------------

STORM SURGE: The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and

large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 7 to 11

feet above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme

northern Leeward Islands within the hurricane warning area near and

to the north of the center of Irma. Near the coast, the surge will

be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will

cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising

waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to

reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at

the time of high tide...

British and U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix...7 to 11 ft

Northern coast of Puerto Rico...3 to 5 ft

Southern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix...1 to 2 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of

onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and

destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative

timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over

short distances. For information specific to your area, please see

products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast

office.

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane

warning area in the Leeward Islands by tonight, with tropical storm

conditions beginning later today. Tropical storm conditions are

expected within the tropical storm warning area where hurricane

conditions are also possible. Hurricane conditions are expected

to begin within the hurricane warning area in the British and U.S.

Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with tropical storm

conditions beginning tonight.

Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the

watch area in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos,

and the southeastern Bahamas by early Thursday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce total rain accumulations

of 8 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 18 inches across

the northern Leeward Islands. Irma is expected to produce total

rain accumulations of 4 to 10 inches with isolated maximum amounts

of 15 inches across northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S.

Virgin Islands, and amounts of 2 to 4 inches over southwest Puerto

Rico, the southern Leeward Islands, and Saint Croix. This rainfall

may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

SURF: Swells generated by Irma will affect the northern Leeward

Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands

during the next several days. These swells are likely to cause

life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult

products from your local weather office.

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