Irma becomes strongest in history

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma is growing, and has become a potentially catastrophic storm on a path that is causing the Southeast to remain wary.

Hurricane Irma was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane Tuesday with winds reaching up to 185 mph, well above the 157 mph threshold that made it a Category 5 storm. It is ranked among the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, according to the National Weather Service.

As of yesterday, the storm was nearing the Virgin Islands and is on pace to hit Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the next couple of days.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the state of Florida, saying, “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared.”

Forecasters say it is hard to predict the path that Irma is taking, but forecasts show that it may hit southern Florida around Friday night, and the Gulf Coast sometime later in the weekend, if the path were to continue on the pace that it is now.

Covington County Emergency Management Director Susan Harris said it’s still too early to predict what, if any, hit Covington County may take.

“It is still too early to determine specific impacts beyond the scope of the five-day forecast, but much of the forecast guidance continues to curve Irma northward near the Florida Peninsula to our east late Sunday into Monday,” Harris said. “This currently appears to be the most likely scenario.  Based on this forecast, the only local impact would be gusty northerly winds over our area Sunday into early next week.  Keep in mind Irma is still several days away, and adjustments to the forecast may be needed.”