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Irma strengthening as it heads to Leeward Islands

Posted: Monday, September 4, 2017. 10:15 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is closely monitoring Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic. This morning, the Hurricane Hunter aircraft found Hurricane Irma had gotten a little stronger. Data from the aircraft indicated that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 120 mph (195 km/h) with higher gusts – a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Forecasters say that additional strengthening is expected through Tuesday night.

Irma is centered about 610 miles (980 km) east of the Leeward Islands, moving toward the west-southwest near 14 mph (22 km/h).

A turn toward the west is expected later today, followed by a west-northwestward turn late
Tuesday.

On the forecast track, the center of Irma will move closer to the Leeward Islands through Tuesday and then be near the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night.

The government of Antigua has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the British Virgin Islands.

The government of the Netherlands has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten.

The government of France has issued a Hurricane Warning for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.  A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Guadeloupe.

A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra.

The government of Barbados has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Dominica.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.  A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.  Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.  A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme northern

Leeward Islands within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

The NHC reports that Irma is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches across the Leeward Islands, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches across the northern Leeward Islands. These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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