The newest model runs show that parts of Georgia could be affected by potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma late this weekend.
Irma maintained its catastrophic category 5 strength Wednesday morning, as it began passing across the upper Leeward Islands Tuesday night.
It scoured Barbuda during the overnight hours, and as of 11 am ET Wednesday, the eye was centered about 65 miles east-southeast of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and 140 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Maximum sustained winds were still running at about 185 mph with gusts topping 200 mph. Irma is moving to the west-northwest at 16 mph.
On its current track, Irma is still expected to move near the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and approach Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and move past the Dominican Republic and Haiti toward the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Friday.
By late Saturday, most of Cuba and parts of south Florida should begin to feel Irma's effects. From there, the storm is expected to make a turn northward, but exactly where that will take place is still up in the air. Most models indicate Irma will move toward the east coast of Florida.
11Alive's Chesley McNeil says the most recent model data shows the center of Hurricane Irma could pass near Miami Sunday morning with 145 mph winds before moving up the east coast of Florida and into Georgia.
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This is where the track gets tricky. It all depends on that right-hand turn and move to the north. At this point, most of the models show the storm moving through Florida, then into southeast Georgia and South Carolina. If the center of the storm stays to the east of Atlanta, our effects won't be as intense. If the center of the storm moves over Atlanta, we would have more intense impacts. Also if the center of the storm goes west of Atlanta, we would have a severe weather threat.
At this point, we think the center of the storm will move east of Atlanta. Based on this track, we will have rainy conditions Monday and Tuesday with some strong winds. We will fine tune this forecast as soon as we get a better feel on that right turn and the path after that.
The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings for the following as of 11 am Wednesday: Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti; Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas and the southern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the following: Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province and the central Bahamas. A tropical storm warning is effect for the Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the southern border with Haiti; Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince.
Stay tuned for the latest on Hurricane Irma's track.