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Hurricane Irma weakens, still may hit Florida as a category 5 hurricane

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The extremely dangerous Hurricane Irma has the potential to hit Florida as a category 5 hurricane.

The latest advisory at 8 a.m. Saturday showed the major hurricane weakening to a category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph, down from 155 mph in the previous advisory.

Irma's westward shift prompted leaders in Indian River County to downgrade the mandatory evacuation orders to a voluntary evacuation for those living along the barrier islands, and in mobile homes and low-lying areas prone to flooding.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

Irma is moving into warmer waters after making landfall in Cuba just before midnight and is just under 225 miles south of Miami.

Gov. Scott is set to hold a news conference at 9:15 a.m. from Sarasota to give an update on emergency preparations.

Outer bands are starting to batter Miami with wind gusts up to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

FPL is starting to report major power outages.

Miami-Dade County has over 21,000 outages as of 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Officials also report over 4,000 outages in Broward County and 580 in Palm Beach County.

The hurricane is wider than the state of Florida and stronger than Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the state in 1992.

Only three other hurricanes have made landfall in the US mainland as category 5 storms.

Those are Hurricane Andre in August of 1992, Hurricane Camille in August of 1969, and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

Tracking the Tropics

Hurricane Jose is close to becoming a category 5 storm. It has maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, just shy of the 157 threshold. It is moving west-northwest at 14 mph., and is forecast to spin out to sea.

Katia made landfall in Mexico as a category 1 hurricane. It is now a tropical storm with mph winds, per the 4 a.m. advisory.

Hurricane Irma: Live Coverage

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LATEST BULLETIN FROM THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

EYE OF IRMA CONTINUES MOVING OVER THE CAMAGUEY ARCHIPELAGO OF

CUBA AS A CATEGORY 4 HURRICANE...

SUMMARY OF 500 AM EDT...0900 UTC...INFORMATION

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

LOCATION...22.5N 78.8W

ABOUT 45 MI...70 KM E OF CAIBARIEN CUBA

ABOUT 245 MI...395 KM SSE OF MIAMI FLORIDA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...155 MPH...250 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 12 MPH...19 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...930 MB...27.47 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

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

CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:

The Hurricane Warning and the Storm Surge Warning are extended

northward along the Florida West coast from Anclote River to

Chassahowitzka.

The Hurricane Warning is extended northward along the Florida East

coast to the Flagler/Volusia County Line.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued north of Fernandina Beach to

Altamaha Sound, Georgia.

Additional Watches and Warnings may be required for portions of the

coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, as well as portions of the

Florida Gulf Coast later today.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for...

* Volusia/Brevard County Line southward around the Florida peninsula

to Chassahowitzka

* Florida Keys

* Tampa Bay

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for...

* North of the Volusia/Brevard County Line to the Flagler/Volusia

County line

* North of Chassahowitzka to Suwannee River

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...

* Flagler/Volusia County Line southward around the Florida peninsula

to Chassahowitzka

* Florida Keys

* Lake Okeechobee

* Florida Bay

* Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus,

Villa Clara, and Matanzas

* Central Bahamas and Ragged Island

* Northwestern Bahamas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...

* North of the Flagler/Volusia County Line to Fernandina Beach

* North and west of Chassahowitzka to Indian Pass

* Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...

* Cuban provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas, La Habana, and Ciudad de

la Habana

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...

* North of Fernandina Beach to Altamaha Sound

A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening

inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline,

during the next 36 hours in the indicated locations. For a

depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather

Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

hurricanes.gov. This is a life-threatening situation. Persons

located within these areas should take all necessary actions to

protect life and property from rising water and the potential for

other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other

instructions from local officials.

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-

threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the

coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather

Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

hurricanes.gov.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected

somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and

property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible

within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours

before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force

winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are

expected somewhere within the warning area.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are

possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Interests elsewhere in Cuba, Florida, and the southeastern United

States 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 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).

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND

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

STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous 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...

SW Florida from Captiva to Cape Sable...8 to 12 ft

Cape Sable to Boca Raton including the Florida Keys...5 to 10 ft

Venice to Captiva...5 to 8 ft

Suwannee River to Venice including Tampa Bay...3 to 5 ft

Boca Raton to Flagler/Volusia County line...2 to 4 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.

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking

waves will raise water levels ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS by the

following amounts 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.

Ragged Island in the Bahamas...15 to 20 ft

Central and Northwestern Bahamas...3 to 6 ft

Northern coast of Cuba in the warning area...5 to 10 ft

WIND: Hurricane conditions are still occurring over portions of the

central Bahamas, as well as Ragged Island. Hurricane conditions are

expected to continue within the hurricane warning area along the

north coast of Cuba through today. Hurricane conditions are

expected in the northwestern Bahamas today, and in portions of

southern and central Florida and the Florida Keys tonight and

Sunday.

Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the

watch area in central and north Florida by Sunday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain

accumulations through Tuesday night:

Northern Cuba...10 to 15 inches, isolated 20 inches. Southern

Cuba...5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.

Western Bahamas...3 to 6 inches, isolated 10 inches.

The Florida Keys...10 to 20 inches, isolated 25 inches.

The Florida peninsula and southeast Georgia...8 to 15 inches,

isolated 20 inches.

The eastern Florida Panhandle...3 to 6 inches, isolated 8 inches.

Rest of eastern Georgia, western South Carolina, and western North

Carolina...4 to 8 inches. Western Georgia, eastern and northern

Alabama, and southern Tennessee...2 to 5 inches.

In all areas this rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods

and, in some areas, mudslides.

TORNADOES: A few tornadoes are possible today and tonight over

southern Florida.

SURF: Swells generated by Irma are affecting the southeastern

Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the northern coast of the

Dominican Republic, and the southeast coast of the United States

today. 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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