CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 4 Hurricane as moves west along the Atlantic Ocean towards the Leeward Islands.
The late afternoon updated recorded maximum sustained winds were at 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 16.7 North, longitude 54.4 West, about 490 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
Irma is moving toward the west near 13 mph.
A west-northwestward turn is expected late Tuesday.
On the forecast track, the center of Irma will move near or over portions of the northern Leeward Islands Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center will release the next forecast track update at 8 p.m.
Live 5 Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh says Irma is a serious storm and is likely to be headed towards South Florida and possibly the Southeast coast.
"The threat for Florida is this weekend and for our area would be Monday/Tuesday time period," Walsh said Monday afternoon." What we don’t know and will continue to fine tune will be the upper level players helping to steer the storm. There is still a lot of uncertainty of the track beyond 5 days."
Walsh advises everyone to get out their hurricane plan and look it over should the storm come our way.
Live 5 Meteorologist Joey Sovine said Monday morning forecast models over the past 24 hours had shifted the storm's path to the south, bringing it closer to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
"Remember, these forecast models change. It's a very fluid situation," he said.
Steering currents could still push the storm to the north early next week, he said. If that happens, the Lowcountry could still feel impacts even if the storm passes between Cuba and the southern tip of Florida and makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico.
"Right now is not the time to worry, but it's a time to make sure you have your hurricane plan and supplies in place," Sovine said.
Current watches and warnings
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis
- Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten
- Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:
- British Virgin Islands
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm- force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.