Reports on Hurricane Irma from the National Hurricane Center on Saturday was somewhat favorable for the urban communities of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Each hourly forecast had the storm shifting more to the west coast. If this path continues Irma would be a danger to cities like Naples, Fort Myers, and Tampa.
The hurricane, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever reach a sustained wind speed of 185 mph on Wednesday, weakened to 125 mph or Category 3 status as it moved off the northern coast of Cuba at noon on Saturday. It was expected to make its northern turn towards Florida and forecaster believed as the storm travels over the warm waters of the Florida Strait it could regain its strength and reach the lower keys early Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane with winds over 135 mph.
Although Irma is forecasted to trek west and impact Florida’s west coast, because the width of the system is some 300 miles, communities on the east coast of South Florida is expected to feel its effects, but mostly as a tropical storm.
On Saturday morning residents in Southwest Miami woke up to a thunderstorm and winds of approximately 37 mph. Throughout the day there were intermittent heavy rainfalls and wind gusts. The weather was expected to deteriorate as the day and night progresses. The worst weather was expected between 7 a.m. and noon on Sunday. According to the NHC winds could hover between 75 and 100 mph.
Electricity was on during most of the day in South Florida, but there were reports of thousands of residents losing power temporarily in Miami.
The NHC maintained it was still uncertain on Saturday afternoon where Irma would ultimately make landfall in Florida because of the storm’s angle to the coast.
While Miami and the southeast coast could likely avoid receiving a direct hit, Southeast Florida was still expected to be a dangerous storm surge as strong winds push water inland.