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Potentially Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma Closing In On Northern Leeward Islands

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hurricane Irma is getting very close to the northern Leeward Islands.

The National Hurricane Center is warning of potentially catastrophic impact from the Category 5 hurricane.

At 11 p.m., the center of the storm was about 50 miles east-northeast of Antigua and 50 miles east-southeast of Barbuda.

Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph, and this motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands Wednesday night and early Wednesday, move near or over portions of the northern Virgin Islands Wednesday, and pass near or just north of Puerto Rico late Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 185 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. 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.

Related: How To Prep For A Possible Hurricane Irma Hit

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

  • Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
  • Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
  • Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
  • British Virgin Islands
  • S. Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
  • Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti
  • Guadeloupe

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…

  • Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Southeastern Bahamas
  • Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the southern border with Haiti

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

  • Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels above normal tide levels by the following amounts within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Northern Leeward Islands…7 to 11 ft
Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
Southeastern Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
Northern coast of the Dominican Republic…3 to 5 ft Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is expected to reach the following heights above ground if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

British and U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix…7 to 11 ft Northern coast of Puerto Rico…3 to 5 ft Southern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Croix…1 to 2 ft.

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.

Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area by tonight, with tropical storm conditions beginning later today. Tropical storm conditions are expected within the tropical storm warning area where hurricane conditions are also possible.

IrIrma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Thursday:

Northern Leeward Islands…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches Southwest Puerto Rico, the southern Leeward Islands, and St. Croix…2 to 4 inches

Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations Wednesday through Saturday:

Southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches Northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches Southwest Haiti…1 to 4 inches

These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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