Category Five Major Hurricane Irma continues to track west-northwestward, now located northwest of Puerto Rico.
Several deaths and destruction have been reported across islands in the northern Caribbean.
Irma will continue to track to the west-northwest for the next few days over very warm water and with little in the way of wind shear or dry mid-level air. To put it simply, Irma will remain an incredibly strong hurricane.
In fact, some re-intensification may occur as it approaches Florida later Friday into Saturday. This is also the time that we will be watching for a northward turn. This turn is crucial to Irma’s eventual track and any impacts to the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
The timing of impacts, thankfully, is more certain.
In a worst-case scenario, tropical storm conditions will begin across coastal waters and communities closer to the Florida state line Sunday night. Widespread tropical storm force winds will occur by sunrise Monday. Hurricane force winds will occur in many communities by early Monday afternoon; persisting into Monday evening.
If this morning’s forecast track from the National Hurricane Center is 100-percent correct, we would be dealing with a landfall Category Two or Three Hurricane Irma late Monday afternoon or evening.
You need to prepare for the worst-case hurricane force winds. If you live in a surge-prone location, also be prepared to be told to evacuate. Evacuation remains a possibility, not a certainty at this point.
The timeline and impact scale above is subject to change as the forecast evolves. Irma may make landfall anywhere between southern Florida and the Pee Dee of South Carolina or extreme southern North Carolina.
We will continue to update you over the next several days. Please stay with WTOC, your tropical weather authority, for coverage you can count on.
Here's our Facebook LIVE update from 7:06 a.m. (9/7):