Hurricane Irma strengthens to Category 4, ‘increasing chance’ could affect Florida: NHC

(ABC News) — Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 4 storm today and the National Hurricane Center said there is an “increasing chance” that Florida and the Florida Keys will see “some impacts from” Irma, though it’s still too early to determine what direct effects it may have.

The storm — which is currently closing in on the Caribbean with winds up to 130 mph — is expected to be near the Cuba coast by Saturday.

Tuesday afternoon and evening rain and winds are expected to move into the northern Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Saint Martin, with the worst conditions occurring Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning.

Hurricane warnings — which are usually issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds — are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy as of 11 a.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Related Content: Malloy says it’s not too early to prepare for possible hit from “Irma”

The Virgins Islands and Puerto Rico are forecast to see deteriorating conditions throughout the day on Wednesday with the worst of the rain and wind arriving Wednesday night.

Hurricane watches — which typically are issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds — have been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra and Guadeloupe.

Some Caribbean island were making preparations as the storm approached.

In Puerto Rico, a State of Emergency has been declared that activates the National Guard.

At a news conference today Puerto Rico Gov. Ricard Rossello warned of flooding and power outages.

Related Content: Tropical Storm Irma forms over Atlantic

He canceled classes for Tuesday and declared a half-day of work for the U.S. territory, and said the government was preparing 456 shelters on the island, which can house 62,000 people.

In Antigua, Prime Minister Gaston Browne recommended taking preventative measures, like cleaning drains, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Workers were also seen pruning trees and shrubs to help keep them from tearing down phone and power lines, the AP said.

In a statement, Browne said while “the passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly … we must not panic,” according to the AP.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s