MIAMI (WWJ/AP) — As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida the point of impact is becoming more clear and it’s better news for the city of Miami but not for Tampa.
WWJ meteorologist Brian Thompson says that in now looks like Miami will be spared a direct hit when the Category 4 storm strikes the coast.
“It looks like it is going to be near or over the Florida Keys tomorrow morning and then making its track up the west coast,” Thompson said. “Now if it tracks off the west coast of Florida, that could push some of the worst storm surge into Tampa and Tampa Bay. So that’s something to watch.”
Forecasters are predicting Tampa Bay as the new striking point for the storm instead of Miami.
Forecasters expect Irma’s core to come ashore Sunday and strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region, which hasn’t felt a major hurricane since 1921. The eye is expected to miss heavily-populated Miami, but that area will still get life-threatening hurricane conditions even without a direct hit.
Irma weakened slightly to Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) on Saturday, but it was expected to pick up strength again as it closes in on Florida.
The National Weather Service said damaging winds were moving into areas including Key Biscayne and Coral Gables on Saturday morning, while gusts of up to 56 mph (90 kph) were reported on Virginia Key off Miami.
In one of the country’s largest evacuations, about 5.6 million people in Florida — more than one-quarter of the state’s population — were ordered to leave, and another 540,000 were ordered out on the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Hotels as far away as Atlanta filled up with evacuees.
Thompson said the effects of the storm will be felt throughout the southeastern region of the U.S.
“It looks like it is going to make it up to about Arkansas or Tennessee but by then it will be much weaker of course,” Thompson said. “It’ll just peter out with some left over showers from it. But the main impacts will be southern Georgia, maybe southeastern Alabama and especially across Florida.”
Thompson added that the dynamics of Hurricane Irma will actually lead to warmer and drier weather here in Michigan in the coming days.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.