Irma remains a Category Five Hurricane, with winds of 160 miles per hour (mph), with a minimum central pressure of 930 millibars (MB), or 27.46 inches. Irma was moving just north of due west (W) at 12 mph. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 70 miles away from the center, with tropical storm force winds force winds up to 185 miles away from the center.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects a turn to the Northwest (NW) during the day Saturday. The NHC does expect storm fluctuations in intensity between Category Four and Five status, and Irma is forecast to come ashore along the southwest (SW) coast of Florida with winds of 150+ mph.
Hurricane Warnings now extend northward to Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk Counties southward. The NHC has also issued Storm Surge Warnings for Tampa Bay, as well as Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Manatee Counties southward.
What Tampa Bay Residents Should Expect from Hurricane Irma
Based on its current track, which could still move westward, the Tampa Bay National Weather Service (TBNWS), expects winds of 80-100 mph, and gusts up to 125 mph in both Pinellas County and inland areas of Hillsborough County. For coastal areas of Hillsborough County, including the cities/communities of Tampa, Apollo Beach, and Westchase, the TBNWS predicts maximum winds of 85-105 mph, with gusts up to 130 mph.
In addition to the dangerous winds, the NHC and TBNWS also expects storm surge heights of 3-5 feet above normal sea level. However, should the track move westward, the wind and storm surge impacts for Pinellas and coastal Hillsborough Counties would increase compared to present forecasts. Regardless of the storm track, rainfall totals will likely range from 8 to 12 inches.
Links to More Local Weather Information
For more information on the track of extremely dangerous Category Five Hurricane Irma, please visit the NHC website and/or AccuWeather Hurricane website. For more localized forecast information for the Tampa Bay Area, please visit the TBNWS website, Denis Phillips Facebook page, and Storm Team 8’s Facebook page.