MIAMI (CBS4) – Hurricane Irene is a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday but is likely to restrengthen to a category 3 hurricane by Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center but the threat to South Florida is decreasing.
That’s good news for South Florida as forecasters at the NHC said the first Atlantic hurricane of the season could become a Category 4 with winds of 131 mph or more by Thursday as it roars toward the U.S. coast over warm open waters.
Hurricane conditions are expected to continue in the Turks and Caicos for the next several hours. Similar conditions are expected in the Bahamas Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
“The closest approach will be Thursday afternoon when tropical storm force winds are possible,” Setzer said. “A jog to the left for Irene would mean stronger winds with hurricane force gusts possible.”
“Everyone in South Florida should monitor the progress of the storm and its anticipated turn to the left later today and tonight.”
At 11 p.m., Hurricane Irene was about 410 miles southeast of Nassau. Irene was packing sustained winds of 90 miles per hour with some higher gusts.
At Miami International Airport, eleven departures and 16 arrivals were canceled due to Irene. Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport expects 16 flights to the Bahamas will be canceled on Wednesday.
Irene was moving to the West-Northwest at roughly 9 mph. This general motion is expected to continue through Tuesday night, followed by a turn toward the Northwest on Wednesday.
An extremely dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 9 to 13 feet above normal tide levels over the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
WARNINGS AND WATCHES
The following watches and warnings have been issued:
HURRICANE WARNINGS for the Turks and Caicos Islands and Southeastern, Central and Northwestern Bahamas.
TROPICAL STORM WATCH for the Atlantic waters off southeast Florida from Jupiter inlet to ocean reef out to the territorial waters of the Bahamas, not including Biscayne Bay and the adjacent land areas.
TROPICAL STORM WARNING for North coast of Haiti from Le Mole St. Nicholas Eastward to the Dominican Republic border.