Hurricane warnings and watches in the Caribbean as Category 3 Irma creeps closer

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A report by David J. Neal for the Miami Herald.

Hurricane warnings and watches went up throughout the Caribbean Monday as Hurricane Irma edged toward the islands with 120 mph, Category 3 sustained winds, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. advisory.

As for the continental United States, the NHC still says it’s too early to say what Irma will do, if anything. However, many long range models put South Florida into several of the storm’s potential paths.

“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impact from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and Florida Keys this week and this weekend,” the NHC’s 11 a.m. Key Messages read. “In addition, rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern U.S. coast by later this week.”

Irma is still moving west-northwest at 14 mph (22 km/h), 530 miles (850 km) east of the Leeward Islands. It’s still expected to turn west later Monday, then west-northwest on Tuesday.

Now under hurricane warning: Antigua; Barbuda; Anguilla; Montserrat; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saba; St. Eustatius; Sint Maarten; Saint Martin; and Saint Barthelemy. Hurricane watches have been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands; Puerto Rico; the British Virgin Islands; Guadeloupe; Vieques; and Culebra.

“Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area by Tuesday night, with tropical storm conditions expected by late Tuesday,” the NHC advisory warned. “Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area by late Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions possible by early Wednesday.”

The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas aren’t under hurricane watch yet, but “Irma could directly affect Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba as a major hurricane later this week,” according to the NHC.

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