A hurricane watch has been issued for Florida as Hurricane Irma continues to move through the Caribbean.
The storm is currently passing north of the coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti headed toward the Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas, where it is expected to be by this evening. The storm is expected to be near the central Bahamas by Friday. Maximum sustained winds are near 175 mph, and the storm is expected to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane for the next couple of days.
A hurricane watch is now in effect for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay, while the government of Cuba has extended its tropical storm warning to Villa Clara province.
Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti; Haiti from the Dominican Republic border to Le Mole St. Nicholas; the southeastern, central and northwestern Bahamas; and Turks and Caicos. A hurricane watch is also in effect for Cuba from the Matanzas province east to the Guantanamo province, while a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic south of Cabo Engano west to the southern border with Haiti; Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince; and the provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara.
Hurricane Irma has already caused widespread damage to Barbuda, St. Martin/St. Maarten and St. Barts, as well as casualties on Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts and Barbuda.