Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 storm, currently sitting approximately 225 miles east of the Caribbean island of Antigua and moving west at 14 mph. The Tampa area is expected to begin experiencing weather from this system over the weekend.
The current projected path of Irma shows a move north west after passing Cuba, which could mean that Tampa will end up in her direct path. If Irma doesn’t hit Tampa, Florida, directly, she’s sure to bring gusty winds and several inches of rain to the area as she passes to the south.
What most people are worried about is the chance that Irma could get a taste of those warm Gulf waters and turn north east, which would put Tampa in severe danger.
Check out the most recent map from the National Hurricane Center below.
According to Tampa’s Klystron 9, winds will pick up in Tampa by Saturday. On Sunday and into Monday, winds will intensify, though it’s too early to report how high the sustained winds will be. As of today (Tuesday, September 5), showers are in the forecast for Tampa on Sunday and Monday.
“We had Patricia a couple years ago in the Pacific and that had over 200 mph winds. Irma is definitely in that elite group of super powerful storms,” Dennis Feltgen, an NHC spokesman, told NBC News.
Governor Rick Scott has already issued a state of emergency for every county in Florida.
“Current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path — potentially impacting millions of Floridians. While the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Scott said in a statement on Monday, September 4.
Sandbags are available for pickup for Tampa residents at the following locations (open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily).
– Bobby Hicks Pool: 4201 W. Mango Ave.
– Barksdale Active Adult Center @ MacFarlane Park: 1801 N. Lincoln Ave.
– Jackson Heights Community Center: 3310 E. Lake Avenue
For a full list of sandbag availability in surrounding counties, click here.