Overnight, Hurricane Irma battered the northern coastline of Cuba. As of this morning, there were signs that moving over parts of Cuba did weaken the storm a bit, but it still remains a powerful hurricane. As of 11AM EDT, Irma is classified as a category 3 storm with sustained wind speeds of 125 mph and gusts up to 155 mph. The latest satellite/radar imagery now shows bands of rain moving through southern Florida and the Florida Keys.
Don’t be deceived by the fact that Irma is not as strong as it once was. In fact, as the storm shifts northwestward today and moves over the warm waters of the Atlantic, it is expected to re-intensify. Irma may be category 4 or 5 strength by the time it impacts the Keys or the west coast of Florida. The latest timing is a bit faster with Irma, bringing a direct hit to the Florida Keys by 8pm tonight. Communities like Fort Myers and Tampa will be impacted Sunday morning and afternoon with dangerous surge, damaging winds, and torrential rain.
What hasn’t changed is the fact that Hurricane Irma remains a significant and potentially catastrophic storm for Florida. Irma is large enough that most of the state will feel the effects, though the absolute worst will be along the west coast simply because of the storm surge threat. We’ll continue to update this blog throughout the weekend. You can also watch a special report from CBS News tomorrow morning from 7-8a, followed by First News Sunday from 8-9a.