Irma is forecast to remain in a favorable warm water, light shear environment for the next 36-48 h. The intensity guidance shows a slow weakening during this time, but Irma is expected to remain at least a Category 4 hurricane until landfall in Florida. After landfall, a fairly quick decay in maximum winds is expected due to land interaction and increased shear, although Irma’s large wind field is likely to still produce hurricane-force winds over a large area. There are two caveats to the intensity forecast. First, some additional weakening could occur during the eyewall replacement, followed by re-intensification as the cycle completes. Second, the ECMWF, UKMET, and NAVGEM forecast a track over or close to the coast of Cuba that is not currently a part of the track forecast. If this occurs, Irma could be weaker than currently forecast along the later parts of the track.
1. Irma is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane and will continue to bring life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas through Saturday. Heavy rainfall is still possible across portions of Hispaniola through today. Hurricane conditions will also spread over portions of the north coast of Cuba, especially over the adjacent Cuban Keys through Saturday.
2. Severe hurricane conditions are expected over portions of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys beginning Saturday night. Irma is likely to make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous major hurricane, and bring life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts to much of the state.
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