Hurricane Irma downgraded to Category 4 as it approaches Florida, sustained 150 mph winds
Written by Joe Joyce on .
FLORIDA - The tropics remain a focal point for forecasters as Hurricane Irma has been downgraded slightly to a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. It is roaring through the southern Bahamas today, likely coming with more catastrophic winds and storm surges.
Irma will not weaken much more before it makes landfall again along the coast of Florida this weekend. In fact, it may strengthen again over the 87 degree water right before landfall. Irma has been the strongest storm to ever happen in the Atlantic since we began keeping satellite records (1966). It is also the longest lived Category 5 to ever happen on the entire planet with over 40 hours with winds exceeding 155 mph. Just incredible.
The latest track from the National Hurricane Center has shifted a bit further west. Irma is likely going to make a direct hit near the Keys and just south of Miami Saturday night into Early Sunday. It will track right up the spine of Florida affecting the entire state with hurricane force winds. Widespread damage to the state can be expected. Both coasts will be impacted with the worst of the storm surge flooding on the east coast. Miami looks to take the worst of the storm early Sunday.
The hurricane center is projecting storm surge on top of normal tides of 5 to 10 feet all the way from Jupiter Inlet, which is north of Palm Beach on Florida's east coast, around to Bonita Beach, which is on Florida's west coast south of Fort Myers. The Florida Keys will likely be swamped. From Bonita Beach north to Venice, storm surge is expected to be 3 to 5 feet. And from Jupiter Inlet north to Sebastian Inlet, which is just south of Cape Canaveral, it is expected to be 3 to 6 feet.
Forecasters say this life-threatening surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.