MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- Most of North Florida and South Georgia are right in the middle of the forecast path for Hurricane Irma. Locally, near I-75 and the Suwannee Valley, we are seeing rain already beginning to move into the area with breezy winds. The rain will likely become more widespread and heavier moving into the afternoon and evening hours. The bulk of Irma's rain and wind will arrive early Monday morning (before Sunrise.)
The National Weather Service in Tallahassee has issued a HURRICANE WARNING for most of the Big Bend and South Georgia. A TROPICAL STORM WARNING has been issued for counties further west.
There is also a STORM SURGE WARNING in effect for Coastal Dixie, Coastal Taylor, Coastal Jefferson, and Coastal Wakulla counties in Florida with 4-6' possible.
Warnings are issued when the related weather conditions are LIKELY in a given area within a 36 hour time-frame.
Lastly, there is a FLASH FLOOD WATCH in effect for many of our counties until Monday evening. As Irma passes, we'll see a lot of rain. There is a chance that this amount of rain and how quickly it'll fall may cause flooding for low lying areas and in areas with poor drainage.
As of the 1:00 pm ET advisory, Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph moving at 9 mph to the north. This storm is expected to speed up a little throughout the day. The current forecast cone is showing this storm skirting just along the Florida Gulf Coast.
As this storm nears the region, we'll need to keep our eyes o the area to the north and east of the eye. It's the region that will see heavier rain and pinwheeling feeder bands that create a risk for spin-up tornadoes from Sunday afternoon through Monday morning in advance of the approach of the eye.
Sunday afternoon will prove crucial in determining Irma's impacts on the Florida peninsula and its possible strength once it reaches northern Florida and Georgia Monday.
The WTXL First Alert Weather team is on duty throughout the course of this tropical weather situation. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and watch Weather NOW channel 27.3 (Comcast channel 209 in most areas) for frequent updates and fresh forecast information.