Hurricane Irma: Storm still Category 4; winds back up to 155 mph

by: Action News Jax Updated:

LATEST: Hurricane warning as Irma approaches Florida

5 p.m. Friday update: Hurricane Irma remains Category 4 with winds at 155 mph

Hurricane Irma has shifted west traveling at 12 mph with sustained winds at 155 mph. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to turn northwest by late Saturday.

According to this forecast track, Irma's eye should continue to move near the north coast of Cuba and central Bahamas Friday night and Saturday. 

Irma is projected to be near the Florida keys and southern Florida Peninsula by Sunday morning. 

 

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HURRICANE IRMA PREPS: Sandbag distribution information

4 p.m. Friday update: Jacksonville International Airport to stop flights at 7 p.m. Saturday

11 a.m. Friday update: Hurricane Irma shifts west, remains Category 4 hurricane

Hurricane Irma's track has shifted west. 

8 a.m. Friday update: Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 with winds of 150 mph, continuing West-North West.

 

5 a.m. Friday update: Irma is now a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds.

The storm is still a major hurricane over warm water and fluctuations will occur with potential for a south Florida landfall early Sunday. 

11 p.m. Thursday update: Irma's winds are down to 165 mph

9:30 p.m. Thursday update: Gov. Rick Scott order all public schools to close

Fla. Gov. Rick Scott is directing all public K-12 schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices to close Friday, Sept. 8 – Monday, Sept. 11. 

Governor Scott said, “Today, I am directing the closure of all public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices for their normal activities effective Friday through Monday, to ensure we have every space available for sheltering and staging. Floridians are facing a life-threatening storm in Hurricane Irma, and every family must prepare to evacuate. Our state’s public schools serve a vital role in our communities as shelters for displaced residents and staging areas for hurricane recovery efforts. Closing public schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will provide local and state emergency officials the flexibility necessary to support shelter and emergency response efforts.” 

8 p.m. Thursday update: Hurricane Irma's pressure drops, remains Category 5

5 p.m. Thursday update: Hurricane Irma's path shifts west

Irma remains a Category 5 hurricane but its latest track shows the storm weakening before approaching Jacksonville.

The new track shows a westward shift, bringing the storm on land. 

Maximum sustained winds remain near 175 mph with higher gusts. 

Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.

2 p.m. Thursday update: Hurricane Irma maintains strength, speed

Hurricane Irma remains a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 175 mph as it moves between the north coast of Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos islands.

Jose has strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane in the east Atlantic.

11 a.m. Thursday update: Hurricane Irma remains a Category 5 storm with max sustained winds at 175 mph

8 a.m. Thursday update: Hurricane Irma is moving at 17 MPH West-North West of the Dominican Republic with winds at 180 mph. 

Heavy congestion across Florida as evacuees make their way north.

5 a.m. Thursday update: Little change to Hurricane Irma, but timing is slightly slower for the Jacksonville coast.

10 p.m. Wednesday update: EPA approves fuel waiver for Florida

Gov. Rick Scott announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a waiver to allow fuel to enter Florida more quickly as the state prepares for Hurricane Irma.

8 p.m. Wednesday Irma track update:

Hurricane Irma is moving WNW at 16 mph. Min pressure is 914 mb and Max sustained winds are 185 mph.

7:39 p.m. Wednesday update: Atlantic Beach declares state of emergency

The City of Atlantic Beach has declared a state of emergency and has asked residents to voluntarily evacuate beginning Thursday.

More details can be found on the City of Atlantic Beach's website.

6:50 p.m. Wednesday update: School district closures

School districts in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties announced that classes would be canceled Friday, Sept. 8 and Monday, Sept. 11. See the full list of area school closures here.

5 p.m. Wednesday update on Irma's path

No significant changes for Category 5 Hurricane Irma.

4 p.m. Wednesday update: St. Johns County courthouses closing

Courthouses in St. Johns County's 7th Judicial Circuit will close Sept. 7 through Sept. 13.

3:21 p.m. Wednesday update: State of emergency declared for coastal Ga. counties

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for six coastal Georgia counties, including Glynn and Camden counties.

Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville contacted Action News Jax to confirm that it will be closed Friday and Monday. 

2 p.m. Wednesday update: 

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry declares a state of emergency for Duval County at 3 p.m. as Hurricane Irma travels over the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

“This storm is a monster," Curry said. "People are running around feeling panic. Let’s calm down and go about business of knowing zone, working together as a community to take necessary steps to be safe.”

A declaration of emergency, Curry said, is opening up access to resources and funds in the event they are needed.  

The state of emergency starts at 4 p.m. for Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach. 

Curry said there are no mandatory evacuations, but if you are in Zone A and Zone B, you need to evacuate. 

Offices of the city's non-essential personnel will be closed Friday. 

Evacuating now, Curry said, will likely prevent Jacksonville residents from getting stuck in traffic as residents in south Florida try to evacuate. He said it's too early to tell whether to declare mandatory evacuations. 

Curry said it's better to start a plan right now and begin evacuating Wednesday and Thursday if possible.

Schools in Duval County will be dismissed early Thursday and closed on Friday, Curry said. The school district also announced that it would close Monday.

Twelve shelters will open at noon Friday. Locations will be announced Friday, Curry said.

Trash pickup will continue as scheduled until further notice. 

Curry will brief the city council at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

For more information, visit JaxReady.com to download the app. 

1 p.m. Wednesday update:

St. Johns County officials have declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma. 

The declaration allows the county to access resources and assistance to prepare for the storm.

11 a.m. update: Hurricane Irma shifts east

St. Augustine Beach police say most gas stations on Anastasia Island are out of fuel. They are urging people to get fuel before coming back on the island.

Naval Station Mayport announced it is sending ships to sea ahead of Hurricane Irma. 

USS Shamal, USS The Sullivans and USCG Tahoma are heading to sea Wednesday. 

USS Philippine Sea, USS Farragut, USS Milwaukee, USS Lassen and USS Tornado are scheduled to depart Thursday.

USS Detroit will remain in port.

Navy officials said the decision to sortie is based on concerns for the safety of sailors and preservation of the ships and equipment.

Officials said navy vessels can remain safe at sea by maneuvering to avoid storms altogether. Having ships underway also ensures they are ready to respond to any national tasking if required, officials said.

8 a.m. Wednesday update: Hurricane Irma's pressure increases to 918 mb. 

The storm is still a strong Category 5 as it moves West-North West through the Caribbean. 

5 a.m. Wednesday update: Hurricane Irma remains a Category 5 storm with winds of 185 mph after making landfall in Barbuda earlier this morning.

Hurricane Irma's track has now shifted east and is moving West-North West at 16 mph. 

Fluctuations in intensity are still possible over the next few days for Hurricane Irma.

Tropical Storm Jose is expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight. 

Tropical Depression 13 in the Gulf of Mexico has also been upgraded to Tropical Storm Katia, making it the 11th named storm of the season.

 

12:05 a.m. Wednesday update: Irma still a Category 5 with 185 mph winds

11:50 p.m. Tuesday update: Irma could bring a lot of damage along St. Johns River

St. Johns River flooding is a big concern as Hurricane Irma approaches. 

I would expect at least, some river flooding, the magnitude, will depend on how strong the hurricane is, how intense it is, and its track too,” Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh said.

It’s a track Buresh is taking a close look at.

“There will be storm surge with this hurricane as it comes up from the south,” Buresh said.

Irma is a Category 5 Hurricane and Buresh said the current projected path will bring a lot of damage to Jacksonville, especially along the St. Johns River.

“It will be a combination of surge and waves, even on the river, all the way to those bends, at Blount Island, and then turn to the south, which takes it right into downtown,” Buresh said.

“If we had a major hurricane hit, directly or come, really close, we could see some major power outages obviously, and also a lot of water that will go into the sewage system, which could cause sewage that can go into the river, which will be a health problem,” Jimmy Orth with St. Johns Riverkeeper said

11:45 p.m. Tuesday update: Water flying off the shelves of Northeast Florida stores

Action News Jax checked a few local stores. Target, Aldi and Publix at the Town Center were sold out of water. The Winn-Dixie stores on the Southside and Jacksonville Beach sold out quickly.

Wal-Mart on the Southside off Beach and Hodges should be getting a shipment Wednesday around 5 a.m.

Action News Jax is told Harvey’s in downtown Jacksonville has a lot of water.

A lot of stores will be getting more water in the next couple of days.

Walmart said 800 trucks will be coming in from all over the country to Florida.

11:39 p.m. Tuesday update: Several gas stations running low on fuel

Action News Jax was at the Sam’s Club gas station on the Southside as an employee was going car to car telling people that some of the pumps were empty.

Most of the Gate gas stations Action News Jax called in the area don't expect to run low anytime soon and the Vice President of marketing for Gate said the supply levels are stable at the moment and the fuel levels depend on the path of the storm and where evacuations occur.

Regardless, people are getting prepared and Action News Jax watched as people brought several gas cans to fill up.

"We are trying to get here early so we don't have to sit and it's going to get worse later in the week," Tina Johnson said.

With the hurricane strengthening to a category 5, some people are making plans to travel and get away from the storm’s path.

“We already made reservations out of town and so we are trying to get packed up and ready to go and this is part of that," Rob Conger said.

10:29 p.m. Tuesday update: Walmart bringing 800 trucks with water into Florida.

Walmart said it has activated its emergency operations center and will be bringing 800 trucks with water into Florida.

Walmart also said it will be dispatching more trucks with other high-demand supplies to Florida. Trucks are en route to Florida and should start arriving Tuesday.

8:39 p.m. Tuesday update: President Donald Trump declares emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

7:50 p.m. Tuesday update: Hurricane Irma remains category 5 with 185 mph winds.

5 p.m. Tuesday update: Hurricane Irma still a category 5 with 185 mph winds.

4:14 p.m. Tuesday update: St. Johns County will make sandbags available Wednesday.

Starting Wednesday at noon, St. Johns County will begin making sandbags available to residents. Residents must provide their own transportation and shovels and will be responsible for filling their own bags.

Limit of 20 bags per person. The sand and bags will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:

-Windswept Acres Park, 5335 SR A1A
-Mills Field, 1805 Race Track Road, in overflow parking area
-North Beach park, 3721 Coastal Highway (at the walkover)
-Town of Hastings Town Hall, 6195 S. Main Street, behind the building
-Palm Valley, Under the Palm Valley Bridge on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway
-Sims Pit, 536 S. Holmes Boulevard

3:30 p.m. Tuesday update: Gov. Rick Scott suspends tolls.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is making it easier for Floridians in the south part of the state to evacuate by eliminating tolls. Long gas lines were observed in the Key West area. 

Hurricane Irma, the unpredictable hurricane that is threatening the U.S. mainland, is expected to turn to the north late in the forecast period. 

2 p.m. Tuesday update: Winds are now at 185 mph for Hurricane Irma.

Action News Jax Meteorologist Garrett Bedenbaugh said Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center  and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles.

Monroe County is issuing mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents. 

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during a briefing Tuesday afternoon with the Emergency Operations Center that FEMA still owes the City of Jacksonville $27 million from Hurricane Matthew.

11 a.m. Tuesday update: Hurricane Irma is still Category 5, continuing to strengthen with wind now at 180 mph. 

On Wednesday, the storm is expected to be near Puerto Rico and by Friday, it will be near Cuba. 

Meteorologists warned that Hurricane Irma is a big storm and the strongest in the Atlantic since 2007's Hurricane Felix.

In the Jacksonville area, there will be an increasing threat of dangerous rip currents for several days. Because of the weather threat, the opening of the new flyover J.T. Butler and I-95 has been delayed indefinitely. 

Many hazards include: Elevated surf, coastal flooding, and beach erosion toward the end of the week. There is also a threat of very heavy rainfall through Northeast Florida this weekend. (7-day forecast)

The storm is then expected to make a quick turn to the north early Sunday morning, but it is still unknown at this time what that track will look like. 

Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh said the last Category 5 over the Atlantic Basin was Hurricane Matthew last year when it hit Haiti as a Catgeory 4 storm, then headed east to Florida and along our local coastline as a Category 3 storm. 

The government of the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane Watch from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti and a Tropical Storm watch from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona. 

Emergency officials are warning that Irma could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm draws closer.

5 a.m. Tuesday: Latest update on Irma shows winds at 150 mph, slightly stronger than before. 

10 p.m. Monday: Price gouging hotline activated.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi activated the state's price gouging hotline as Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Hurricane Irma.

“Floridians need to prepare now and they should not be inhibited by unlawful price increases on supplies necessary to brace for a major hurricane strike—that is why I’ve activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline and encourage anyone who suspects price gouging to report it to my office by calling (866)-9-NO-SCAM,” said Attorney General Bondi. “By reporting suspected price gouging you can protect yourself and your fellow Floridians.”

State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period, in addition to other civil penalties that may apply. State law also criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of an occupational license. Violators of the law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

8 p.m. Monday: Florida Gov. declares state of emergency: Irma's winds are now 140 mph. The storm is moving west at 13 mph. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for the state as Hurricane Irma inches closer to the U.S. mainland. 

“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared," Scott said. "I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridians." 

PHOTOS: 12 must-have supplies to survive a hurricane

Irma is packing winds in excess of 130 mph as it heads for key islands in the Caribbean. 

Earlier Monday, Irma was a Category 3 but was upgraded to a Category 4 during the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. advisory. 

Changes in the storm's structure will cause fluctuations in the intensity of the storm. 

The storm's center is 410 miles (660 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands late Monday afternoon. It has maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 kph) and is moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).

Emergency officials are warning that Irma could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm draws closer.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and U.S. Virgin islands and Guadeloupe.

Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh said some of the plane recon is being used in the latest models and might be part of the reason for the most recent big track adjustments by the models.

"It would be prudent to not hang on each and every individual model run, but rather look at the bigger picture in the coming days," Buresh said.

It is still too early to determine if, when and how significant any impacts will be for Florida including Jacksonville.

There will likely be another system developing behind Irma early this week as well. One should always be prepared throughout the hurricane season with your hurricane supply kit. 

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