This is an article written by Meteorologist Zack Fradella as of 7 PM ET.
Hurricane Irma remains a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph as of the 5 PM ET advisory from the National Hurricane Center. One big change centers around the latest track but also the fact the official forecast now calls for the storm to become a Category 5 again as it strikes the Keys early Sunday morning.
Some of the latest track guidance is now projecting a more westward motion with Irma with a track now crossing the middle to lower keys before approaching a final landfall near Naples or just east. This is small shift in the grand scheme of things but has major implications on the impacts for Southwest Florida.
After the track shifted closer to Miami and the Atlantic Coast the past few days, many residents in the Naples/Ft. Myers/Port Charlotte up through Tampa may have let their guard down. The reality now is you could see a Category 4 or 5 hurricane directly impact you within 48 hrs. Residents there are urged to listen to emergency officials and prepare accordingly.
This is not just going to be a coastal storm as wind impacts over 100 mph will likely stretch from the landfall point in South Florida all the way up through Tampa/Orlando and maybe even as far north as Jacksonville. Due to the overall size of Irma and strength it will take multiple hours for the storm to weaken down to a minimal hurricane or tropical storm which is not expected to happen until South Georgia.