Hurricane Irma has already hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. As of Thursday morning, it’s pummeling the Dominican Republic and likely on its way to Haiti, the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, parts of Cuba and Florida, particularly Miami.
The storm will probably directly hit the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as to the west-northwest of Haiti Thursday and the Central Bahamas by Friday, according to the latest projections by the National Hurricane Center. South Florida is likely to experience tropical storm winds by Saturday, and it appears Irma is on a crash course with the tip of the Florida peninsula early Sunday.
From there, the storm’s possible path varies highly, according to the 8 a.m. projections by NHC. But the current predicted path has the storm continuing through Miami up to Port St. Lucie before briefly reentering the Atlantic, but staying along Florida’s east coast. Irma then heads back into the mainland U.S., likely hitting parts of coastal Georgia and South Carolina.
A hurricane warning is in effect for:
- Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti
- Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to LeMole St. Nicholas
- Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Central Bahamas
- Northwestern Bahamas
A hurricane watch is in effect for Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to the Guantanamo province. Watches are typically initiated 48 hours before hurricane winds are possible in the area.
Warnings mean hurricane conditions are expected and all preparations for the storm should be “rushed to completion.”
Maximum sustained winds are 180 miles per hour, according to the Thursday 8 a.m. update, and hurricane winds extend 50 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical storm winds extend up to 185 miles from the center.
Irma is likely to remain a Category 5 or 4 hurricane for at least the next couple of days, according to forecasters.
A collection of path predictions assembled by the National Center for Atmospheric Research show it’s likely those on the east coast of Florida have more reason to worry than those on the Gulf coast. Most possible paths as of Thursday morning have Irma hitting coastal Georgia after Florida, followed by western South Carolina, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland before heading back into the Atlantic.