Watching Hurricane Irma, disturbances brewing in the tropics

Tuesday, 05 Sep, 2017

Its maximum sustained winds are near 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour with higher gusts.

Pasch said Hurricane Irma will pass over - or near - the Leeward Islands late Tuesday, and then continue a westerly course that could possibly bring it to the the weekend.

A Hurricane Warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm- force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or unsafe. The hurricane center expects Irma to reach southern Florida by Saturday.

The island of about 3.4 million people has 456 emergency shelters prepared to house up to 62,100 people.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello also declared preemptive state of emergency as it increasingly likely to hit the United States East Coast, either in South Florida or the South Carolinas.

Hurricane Irma continues to move west with winds up to 180 miles per hour after it was upgraded by weather officials to a Category 5 hurricane Tuesday morning.

Irma is the strongest hurricane since Felix in 2007, which made landfall near the border between Nicaragua and Honduras.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, Sint Maarten, St Barthelemy, Saba and Sint Eustatius.

A refrigerant gas cylinder rests next to a truck in a ditch outside of the Arkema plant which received major damage from flooding caused by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey on September 4, 2017 in Crosby, Texas.

The "worst-case scenario" for the SC coast would be if Irma takes a northern turn later this week and hugs the Florida coast as a major hurricane, the NWS said Monday.

While the path is subject to significant revisions over the coming days, the continental USA may again see impacts from a major hurricane next weekend.

In a statement, Browne said while "the passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly ... we must not panic", according to the AP.

All indications suggest further strengthening with the storm Tuesday into Wednesday, possibly pushing close to or exceeding Category 5 status.