All of Southwest Florida remains under a Hurricane Warning as Hurricane Irma has become a Category 4 hurricane as of the 2 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center. As Irma’s track continues, it’s possible it could make landfall in SWFL as a Category 3 hurricane.
Hurricane force winds are likely in Southwest Florida by mid morning to early afternoon. After the early morning hours is the time to hunker down and ride out the worst of Irma’s winds which will hit more than 100 mph for most areas along the coast. Potential landfall will occur at some point late this afternoon.
In any landfall scenario, the storm surge threat is potentially deadly for coastal communities, and in some cases many miles inland. A Storm Surge Warning extends all along the Southwest Florida coastline. Areas south of Captiva could see 10 to 15 feet of storm surge as the storm moves overhead and continues to push water onshore into Monday. Areas from Captiva north to Venice could see 6-10 feet of surge. Storm surge will be intensified because of Irma’s slow speed.
It is also possible for spin-up tornadoes to develop along with periods of flooding rain starting today and tonight. A Tornado Watch is in effect through noon for all of southwest Florida.
Flash Flood Watches are in place for all of South Florida due to very heavy rain and flood potential from Saturday afternoon through Monday. Overwash or overtopping of the lake near the Herbert Hoover Dike construction sites around the lake also remains a concern.
The final impact to be considered is heavy rain. Projected rainfall is on the order of 8 to 15 inches for Southwest Florida by Monday. Isolated locations in South Florida could see 20-inches of rain. With the eye of the storm now more likely to impact southwest Florida directly we should expect much heavier rainfall than other parts of the state.
Deteriorating marine conditions will have to be monitored this weekend in all waters around South Florida as wave heights build due to the wind.
Review proper hurricane kit guidelines, brush up on storm evacuation zones and learn more about how storms form using our online hurricane guide at nbc-2.com.
This week will continue to be information overload on Irma, so you want to be sure you’re getting your information from a reliable source. The NBC2 First Alert Hurricane Tracking Team will continue giving you frequent updates online, on the air, and on social media.
You can expect updated forecast cones and advisories from the National Hurricane Center every 6 hours, at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Intermediate advisories are posted between the full updates offering a status report on how the storm is doing in the meantime.
Count on the NBC2 First Alert Hurricane Tracking team for the latest on Irma and track its progress with the NBC2 Weather app.