ATLANTA - The newest model runs show that potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma has increased its speed but made a shift to the west as it makes it way towards the United States.
THE LATEST UPDATE:
The latest update on Hurricane Irma shows the storm is back to a category 5 on the north cost of Cuba and is making another shift west. Atlanta still has an increased risk for windy and rainy conditions across the metro area and north GA.
Friday at 11p,, Irma regained category 5 status as the eye wall was making landfall on the north shore of Cuba. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to move near the north coast of Cuba and be near the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula Sunday.
The latest track indicates Irma could be back up to a Category 5 storm as it pushes into the southern parts of Florida Sunday afternoon.
Irma would continue to weaken to a tropical storm, at the Georgia/Florida line. However, the new path puts the storm's center west of Atlanta. While the strength of the winds might be less intense, the potential for severe weather will increase. Folks to the right of the track of the storm will have an enhanced severe weather threat. As we have seen the past few days, the track will continue to change before it moves in.
WHEN WILL IT IMPACT GEORGIA:
The most recent model data shows the center of Hurricane Irma could arrive in south Georgia as a weaker tropical storm Monday. That is based on the latest track that shows the center of the storm over Florida for a longer period which would help it weaken.
After that, the long range computer models show the storm moving just west of metro Atlanta. That would bring rain and wind to the metro area on Monday and Tuesday. At this point, we could see 3-5 inches of rain, with higher amounts east of Atlanta. We could also see sustained winds between 25-35mph with gusts around 50mph. This is all based on the current forecast track. This track could change. Any shift to the west or east would impact what we get here.
Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for six coastal Georgia counties ahead of Irma: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh. In Florida, evacuations are beginning in and around south Florida, including the Keys and Miami Beach areas. Mandatory evacuations are likely to begin in those areas as soon as Thursday.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott suggested people take a level of 'aggressive preparation' as the dangerous storm approaches.
MAIN THREATS FOR METRO ATLANTA
The main threats for the metro Atlanta area at this point appear to be wind, with sustained winds between 25 to 35 mph and gusts up to 50 mph. We could also see between 3 to 5 inches of rain.
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11Alive contributed to this story