IRMA: HURRICANE CONDITIONS SPREADING OVER PUERTO RICO

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Irma is centered as of 5 p.m. AST/EDT about 55 miles (85) east-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will pass just north of Puerto Rico tonight, pass near or just north of the coast of Hispaniola Thursday, and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas by Thursday evening.

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Maximum sustained winds are near 185 mph (295 km/h) with higher gusts. 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. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). A wind gust to 62 mph (100 km/h) has been recently reported at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The estimated minimum central pressure based on Air Force reconnaissance aircraft data is 914 mb (26.99 inches).

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra, the 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, the Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands and Central Bahamas. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province and the Northwestern Bahamas. Interests elsewhere in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as Cuba and Florida should monitor the progress of Irma.