SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Here's a tropical update from WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams:
As of 6:45 A.M. Tuesday morning, Major Hurricane Irma intensified from category four to category five. The winds jumped from 150 mph to 175 mph. There is no category higher than category five since the wind speeds in category five are 157 mph and higher.
Major Hurricane Irma, an extremely dangerous storm, approaching the Leeward Islands with 175 mph winds on Tuesday morning.
There continue to be zero direct threats to South Mississippi. But, we are watching Irma closely as it continues westward as a powerful major hurricane.
Irma is forecast to be near the southwestern tip of Florida this weekend. Beyond the official 5-day NHC forecast, the computer models continue to indicate that Irma should take a sharp turn to the north before getting too far into the Gulf.
The timing of that turn will determine how far west Irma will get. A cold front should block Irma from coming our way and should help Irma to make the turn this weekend.
"It's certainly easy to get nervous when we look at Tuesday's forecast cone for Irma and see the end of it poking into the eastern Gulf of Mexico," said Williams. "But, let's hold off on getting too worried until later Tuesday or Wednesday when we see the next few forecast cones and if they begin to show the Sunday or Monday turn."
We await for the NHC forecast cone to finally show this turn. But, as of Tuesday morning, it's not showing up in the forecast cone because it's beyond 5-days out.
If the models are right, then we should be able to no later than Wednesday look at the NHC forecast cone for Irma and see that sharp turn to the north which will take place around Sunday as Irma passes next to the southern tip of Florida.
Again, it is important to make sure that your general hurricane plans that we make every year when hurricane season begins on June 1st are ready.
Since, South Mississippi is still not under a direct threat, it is still not time for alarm. But, instead, just constant awareness.
Remember: ONLY use the NHC forecast (not computer models beyond 5 days) to plan any disaster response. But, feel free to monitor the models so you can spot some long-range trends.