Hurricane Irma closes in on Leeward Islands; TS Jose could be a hurricane by Wednesday night

by: Irene Sans, Jason Kelly Updated:

11 p.m. Tuesday update

Hurricane Irma was holding strong with wind speeds topping 185 mph Tuesday night as it slowly moved closer to the northern Leeward Islands.

The Category 5 storm was moving west-northwest at about 15 mph.

Tropical Storm Jose continued to strengthen, with wind speeds increasing to 50 mph as it moved west at 14 mph.

Experts expected Jose to become a hurricane by Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 13 was growing in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. 

By Tuesday night, 13's wind speeds had been measured at 35 mph as it moved east at about 2 mph.

The tropical depression could become a hurricane in the next few days, officials said.

8 p.m. Tuesday update

Hurricane hunters have investigated Major Hurricane Irma Tuesday afternoon and found a slightly lower barometric pressure, 916 millibars. Irma is moving west at 15 mph, maximum sustained winds continue to be at 185 mph. The track has not changed. New with the 8 p.m. National Hurricane advisory, The Meteorological Service of Cuba has issued a hurricane watch for Matanzas eastward to Guantanamo. 

 

 

5 p.m. Tuesday update

Hurricane Irma continues moving west at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds stayed at 185 mph. Irma is located at 130 miles east of Antigua. Hurricane Irma is a potentially catastrophic major hurricane and will produce life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, winds across the Eastern Caribbean Islands. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, a hurricane warning is in effect for the northern coast of the Domincan Republic, with hurricane watches for Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. Irma is likely to bring dangerous wind, storm surge, and rainfall to these areas from Wednesday night through Friday.

READ: Sandbag locations across Central Florida

The National Hurricane Center said the Florida Keys will see direct impacts from Irma beginning later this week and this weekend. However, it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of these impacts for the Keys and the rest of Florida. 

 

2:30 p.m. Tuesday update

Gov. Rick Scott directed the suspension of tolls statewide at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

2 p.m. Tuesday update

Hurricane Irma continues to feed of the warm Atlantic waters. Maximum sustained winds increase to 185 mph as it moves west at 14 mph. Barometric pressure is at 926 mb. There was not a change in the track in this advisory. 

The next full advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center by 5pm. 

 

 

11 a.m. Tuesday update

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Hurricane Irma continues to strengthen as it approaches Florida and the northeast Caribbean.

The powerful Category 5 storm, which is centered 225 miles east of the Leeward Islands, has maximum sustained winds of 180 mph and is moving westward at 14 mph.

The NHC called the storm "potentially catastrophic" and urged residents in the Caribbean to "rush preparations to completion."

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Read: Sandbag pickup locations in Central Florida

Channel 9 meteorologist Brian Shields said the system is the strongest storm in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

Shields said the storm could make landfall Wednesday in Puerto Rico.

The storm's effect on Florida depends on whether the storm passes over land, Shields said.

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Read: How to keep your pets safe during a hurricane

A hurricane watch has been issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands, the southeastern Bahamas and the north coast of Haiti. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the south coast of Haiti.

Hurricane warnings have been issued already for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barts, the British and the U.S. Virgin islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.

Download the free WFTV weather app and watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for regular updates on the storm's progression. Read more hurricane stories in the Eye on the Tropics section.

>>> Find your evacuation route here <<<

Photos: 14 essential tips to keep your pets safe during a hurricane

 


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The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a Category 5 storm as it approaches Florida and the northeast Caribbean.

The powerful hurricane, which was centered 320 miles east of the Leeward Islands early Tuesday, has maximum sustained winds of 175 mph and is moving westward at 14 mph.

Channel 9 meteorologist Brian Shields said the system is the strongest storm in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

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Interactive map: Find your hurricane evacuation zone

Shields said preparations should be made because hurricane conditions are possible this weekend in South Florida and the Florida Keys.

"Irma is a buzz saw," Shields said. "Hurricanes don't often look more powerful and symmetric than this."

Shields said Central Florida could experience Irma's effects on Sunday and on Monday, but he warned that conditions could change because the storm is 1,500 miles away.

Read: What you need to have on-hand to be prepared for Hurricane Irma


See which supplies you should stock up on ahead of the storm:


Read: Central Florida residents stock up on supplies ahead of Hurricane Irma

"We need another day to fine-tune the track, and then we will know more," he said. "In Central Florida, you should have your hurricane kit and plans ready, but hang tight one more day. Lots has changed, and a lot more will."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency in all of the state's 67 counties in advance of the hurricane.

Scott said he issued the order to ensure governments have "ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared" for the storm.

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© 2017 Cox Media Group.

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The state of emergency allows emergency management officials to act swiftly without the burden of red tape, Scott said.

States of emergency were also declared in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

People on various Caribbean islands boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies.

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Officials across the northeastern Caribbean have canceled flights, shuttered schools and urged people to hunker down as the storm barrels toward the region.

Emergency officials there warned that Irma could dump up to 10 inches of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet as the storm draws closer.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barts, the British and the U.S. Virgin islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra.

Read: How to keep your pets safe during a hurricane

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A hurricane watch is in effect for Guadeloupe, and a tropical storm warning has been issued for Dominica.

Download the free WFTV weather app and watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for regular updates on the storm's progression. Read more hurricane stories in the Eye on the Tropics section.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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