Hurricane Irma’s projected path suggests problems for Florida

Mike Clary, Aric Chokey and Wayne K. Roustan
(Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel

The odds of South Florida feeling the effects of a powerful Hurricane Irma this week are growing.

Map of Hurricane Irma. Tribune News Service 2017

The storm reached Category 4 Monday, with winds of 130 mph, according to the Nationl Hurricane Center. Warnings were posted for several islands Monday morning.

Whether the storm will hit South Florida remains unknown, but several forecast models are predicting a northern turn late in the week.

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“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend,” forecaster Dan Brown of the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Still, it is too early to determine what direct impacts the storm might have on the region, the advisory said.

Hurricane warnings are now in effect for a long list of islands, including the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Martin and Nevis.

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Meanwhile, South Floridians started emptying store shelves in early preparation for a hurricane hit. Shelves usually brimming with water bottles were bare at several stores Sunday afternoon.

“We’re really preparing because it seems like it’s going to be heading our way,” said Kimberly Antequara, of Pompano Beach, as she loaded a 5-gallon water jug into her cart at a store in Parkland. She said it is the first time she’s bought supplies for a hurricane despite being from the area.

Forecasters said the storm was about 530 miles east of the islands of Barbuda and Antigua Monday afternoon and about 1,780 miles from South Florida.

The storm was moving west-southwest at 14 mph. Forecasters said a west-northwestward turn was expected Tuesday. Tropical storm-force winds could arrive in the eastern Caribbean late Tuesday and in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by early Wednesday.

Irma could arrive in the Bahamas and Cuba as a dangerous major hurricane later this week, the hurricane center said.