CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Hurricane Irma continues to strengthen... quickly!
As of the 5 p.m. update, the storm was upgraded to a category 4 storm. Winds were 130 mph. Just three hours later, the 8 p.m. update revealed winds were up to 140 mph!
Even worse news... more strengthening is expected.
The current forecast track through the Caribbean Islands takes it right through the middle of them. First of all, the track could vary either to the right or left and that would possibly give some islands a direct hit. Even if the eyewall stays over the water though, strong winds extend out a good distance.
Hurricane force winds stretch 40 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extend out 140 miles. That is significant because even if the eyewall remains over the water, the strong winds and rain will still cause trouble.
As of now, the storm is moving to the west at 13 mph. It should start to take a little jog to the north and that will take it close to south Florida by the weekend.
Where does it go from there?
Remember, the storm is currently over 1,600 miles from south Florida. The earliest it would affect Florida would be this weekend. That means a lot could change between now and then. There is, however, the potential that the Carolinas could be impacted by the storm early next week. That is why we are keeping a close eye on it.
What should we do now? This is a good time to plan for the worst and hope for the best. It is always good to have supplies on hand and have a plan – just in case.
We will be keeping you updated every day as we get more information.