Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in half a century, has triggered hurricane and storm surge warnings for south Florida and the Florida Keys, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.
While the NHC designation of a “watch” indicates that weather conditions suggest a hazard might occur, a “warning” is meant to indicate a hazard is imminent.
Irma, which is about 585 miles east-southeast of Miami, Florida, packing maximum sustained winds of 165 miles per hour, will continue to bring life-threatening wind, storm surge, and rainfall hazards to the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas through Saturday, the NHC said.
Irma should maintain a west-northwestward trajectory but slow down during the next 36 hours, it added.
The NHC has said Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years.
Irma’s precise course remained uncertain but it was likely to be downgraded to a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall in Florida, the NHC said.