Outer bands of Hurricane Irma starting to impact South Florida

The outer bands of Hurricane Irma were beginning to impact South Florida early Saturday as the powerful Category 4 storm was moving over Cuba.

As of the 58 a.m. advisory, Irma was located about 225 miles south of Miami and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph. Its maximum sustained winds have dropped to 130 mph.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma was pummeling the north coast of Cuba. Forecasters said the interaction with Cuba's terrain have weakened the hurricane, but it is expected to strengthen again as it moves away from Cuba.

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Irma, which has fluctuated between a Category 5 and Category 4 hurricane over the past 48 hours, was expected to batter Cuba throughout the morning.

The current forecast track has Irma moving near the north coast of Cuba, the Florida Keys by Sunday morning and then near the southwest coast of Florida by Sunday afternoon. It is expected to take a turn to the north-northwest Saturday night or Sunday.

Local 10 News meteorologist Julie Durda said heavy rain from the outer bands of Irma was falling in parts of Miami-Dade County and was expected to continue falling throughout the day.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for all of South Florida and the Florida Keys.

The forecast cone continues to shift slightly to the west, but Durda said Irma is still a cause for concern.

"It looks as though most of Miami-Dade and parts of Broward are out of the forecast cone, but I don't want you to think that that means we're not going to feel the effects of Hurricane Irma," Durda said.

She said tropical storm-force winds will be felt in the Keys by Saturday morning and hurricane-force winds will be felt there by Saturday night.

"Regardless, it looks as though we are still dealing with a possible landfall of a Category 4 hurricane in the lower Keys," Durda said.

The most recent computer models were in agreement that Irma would cross the Florida Straits and make its way along Florida's Gulf coast.

Local 10 News meteorologist Luke Dorris said the trend with Irma will be increasing wind gusts throughout the day and into Sunday.

Dorris said the wind threat will diminish slightly if the forecast holds.

"But, still, you can be close to that and have very strong winds," Dorris said.

While the continuing westward trend may be good news for South Florida, it could be devastating to the Keys.

"This storm is no joke for the Florida Keys," Dorris said.

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This BBSNews article was syndicated from News | WPLG, and written by News | WPLG. Read the original article here.