Sarasota FL (WWSB) - Hurricane Irma is still packing winds of 180 mph with gusts up to 200 mph as of the 10 A.M. Thursday advisory.
Irma has already set all kinds of records. The energy generated by this storm has already surpassed all the storms that have developed in the Atlantic basin this season, including Harvey.
The forecast is still on track to have a major impact on Florida, mainly the East coast. There is still a chance it could track a little to the west or east after day 3.
Irma continues to be a very dangerous category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph making it the strongest hurricane ever for over 30 hours!
The cone has shifted ever so slightly to the East with this advisory. We are still in the cone however. Remember bad weather occurs outside the cone as well. The cone is used only to show where the center of the storm may be in the future.
If Irma follows this center line path, we would more than likely get put into a tropical storm watch on Friday and a warning on Saturday. It could come a little sooner as well.
As far as maximum winds go for the Suncoast it's a tough call not knowing exactly where it will be on Sunday. The tropical storm force winds extend out over 100 miles over most directions. If the storm would ride along the East coast of Florida then we would see tropical storm force winds here say 40-60 mph. Higher winds could be experienced in our inland Counties.
Rainfall could be anywhere between 5-10 inches and possibly higher amounts on this track. With the ground already saturated and the torrential rains tropical system bring, flooding would be a real possibility.
Storm surge would not be that much of a factor on our coast as winds would be basically offshore through the biggest part of the storm. Storm surge is defined as the rise in the water near and to the right of the storm.
Although the cone has shifted slightly eastward there is still a chance it could get bumped a little to the west which would put us in more danger. Most of the more reliable models have it moving along the East coast of Florida. A slight movement to the West would put us more at risk to the dangers of this epic storm.
Stay tuned and make sure your hurricane supply kit is stocked up. Go over your hurricane plan with your family. Make sure you have a plan for your pet as well.