At 800am AST (1200 UTC), the distinct eye center of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 16.7 N, longitude 57.7 W.
Reports from NOAA and U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate Irma continues to strengthen and maximum sustained winds have increased to near 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher gusts.
Irma is an extremely dangerous 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 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km)…
…The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 7-11 feet above normal tide levels along the coasts of the extreme northern Leeward Islands 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. The combination of a dangerous 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 & U.S. Virgin Islands except St. Croix: 7-11 ft
Northern coast of Puerto Rico: 2-4 ft
Southern coast of Puerto Rico & St. Croix: 1-2 ft…
Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area in the Leeward Islands 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. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions beginning tonight. Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area in the Dominican Republic by early Thursday.
Irma is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4-8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches across the northern Leeward Islands, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides…