Sept. 6 (UPI) — The National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning towards the northeast of the Dominican Republic after hammering Puerto Rico with heavy rain and wind. But Puerto Rico escaped the worst of the storm as the dangerous core didn’t touch the island.
The NHC said in its 2 a.m. advisory that the storm’s center was about 145 miles northwest of San Juan, P.R. and 255 miles east-southeast of Grand Turk Island. It recorded maximum sustained winds of 180 mph while moving west-northwest at 16 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra; Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti; Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas; Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands; and the Central Bahamas.
Forecasters said the track of the storm — the path Irma’s expected to take — shifted slightly to the east early Wednesday, but is uncertain beyond about three days. It could approach South Florida by Saturday and travel up Florida’s center, or along its Gulf or Atlantic Coast.
The 2 a.m. forecast from the NHC projects Irma’s center to reach southeast Florida around 8 p.m. Sunday.
“Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this general motion is
expected to continue for the next couple of days,” the NHC said in its 2 a.m. update. “On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move away from Puerto Rico this morning, pass just north of the coast of Hispaniola later today, and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern
Bahamas by this evening.”
A n earlier release from the NHC said equipment on the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Buck Island made an unofficial recording of sustained winds at 106 mph and a gust reaching 131 mph,
Irma’s hurricane-force winds can be felt as far as 50 miles from its center. Tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 185 miles from Irma’s center, the NHC said.
– Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) September 5, 2017
Irma’s wind speeds make it the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin, outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, in the NHC’s recorded history, the center said. Colorado State meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said Wednesday morning that Irma set an Atlantic hurricane record by having maximum wind speeds of at least 180 mph for 24 hours.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday evening declared a federal emergency for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, making federal funds available for preparation ahead of Irma.
Irma became the ninth named Atlantic storm of the season Wednesday, following Harvey. The tenth named Atlantic storm, Jose, formed in the Atlantic earlier Tuesday — and the eleventh, Katia, early Wednesday.