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Meterologist James Spann on Hurricane Irma – UPDATED

From Meteorologist James Spann (updated 11a.m., Sept. 8):

IRMA MIDDAY NOTES…

FLORIDA PANHANDLE/ALABAMA COAST: While it will be windy Sunday night and Monday (a north, offshore wind), places like Gulf Shores, Pensacola, Navarre Beach, and Destin should be dry. Winds will be higher at Panama City Beach Monday, in the 25-40 mph range, with some rain possible, but the main impact of Irma will remain to the east. Winds will diminish Tuesday and the weather looks great for the rest of the week. If I had a vacation trip planned to Panama City Beach, I would go without hesitation.

At 1100 AM EDT (1500 UTC), the distinct eye of Hurricane located near latitude 22.0 North, longitude 75.3 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 14 mph, motion is expected to continue for the next day or so with a decrease in forward speed. A turn toward the northwest is by late Saturday. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma will move near the north coast of Cuba and the central Bahamas Saturday, and be near the Florida Keys and the southern Peninsula Sunday morning.

Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph with 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 forecast to remain a powerful category 4 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 185 miles.

The latest minimum central pressure reported by both Air Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunter planes was 927 mb (27.38 inches).

Unfortunately the NHC track takes Irma right up through the spine of Florida. Here are some important notes..

FLORIDA EAST COAST: The most severe storm surge and wind damage will be along Florida’s East Coast… from Miami up to Jacksonville. Structural damage is likely along with storm surge flooding. Widespread power outages are expected as well. Evacuation orders have been issued for much of the coast, people need to heed those orders.

ORLANDO: Hurricane force winds are likely in Orlando Sunday and Sunday night. This could bring some structural damage and widespread power outages. The weather improves Monday, but keep in mind there could be infrastructure damage from the storm. If you have a trip planned to Disney World next week, keep an eye on their Twitter feed or FB page.

FLORIDA WEST COAST: Cities like St Petersburg, Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Naples will have lots of wind and rain Sunday. There is potential for scattered structural damage and widespread power outages. But, the most severe damage will be over on the Atlantic coast.

ALABAMA: The circulation center of Irma is expected to move through North Georgia, and perhaps through the northeast tip of Alabama Tuesday as a tropical depression. We will remain on the “good” west side, but it will be windy with rain at times Monday afternoon through Tuesday over the northern and eastern counties of the state. Rain amounts of 1-2″ are likely, and winds will be in the 20-30 mph, with occasional higher gusts.

We don’t expect any flooding issues, and there is no risk of tornadoes. Southwest Alabama (the broad area from Demopolis down to Mobile) will see no rain at all.

GEORGIA/SOUTH CAROLINA: Atlanta could see winds in the 30-40 mph range late Monday night and Tuesday as the circulation center passes pretty much over the city; there could be some trees blown down and scattered power outages, but noting widespread is expected. A few isolated tornadoes are possible Tuesday over East Georgia and South Carolina.

Lots of wind and rain for the Georgia and lower South Carolina coast Monday, but Irma will not make a landfall on the the coast there based on the latest NHC forecast.

REMEMBER: There is a flood of weather information floating around social media… some good, some really bad. Stick with a reliable source, or the official products from NHC. And, if you are using a forecast that is more than six hours old, it is bad information. Use the most current update.

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