When a storm hits: How to stay safe in Southeast region
The Southeast region is bracing for a storm as a Category 4 hurricane makes landfall near the Florida Keys on Saturday morning.
The storm will be a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It will be the first hurricane to hit the region since an intense storm surge hit parts of the state during Hurricane Andrew in 2010.
The Storm Prediction Center said Saturday afternoon that Irma will be stronger than Hurricane Andrew but weaker than Hurricane Wilma, which was a Category 2 storm before it hit Florida in 2010 and was also the strongest hurricane to strike the state since Wilma.
The forecast says Irma could move to the Southeast in the early morning hours Saturday, making landfall near Pensacola and Palm Beach.
The NHC also says Irma will weaken in the Southeast, bringing winds of 60 mph to 70 mph and possibly gusts of up to 100 mph.
The storm will dump up to 4 inches of rain over much of Florida and its southeastern tip, according the National Weather Service.
The heaviest rainfall is expected to fall along the Florida coast from Jacksonville to Naples.
Irma is expected on the heels of a strong tropical storm warning issued late Friday.
The National Hurricane Centre warned of possible heavy rain and gusting winds and strong surf conditions in the southern portion of the Florida Panhandle and Florida Keys and the east coast of the U.S. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach and Broward counties.
Hurricane watches, warnings and advisories are issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration every day.
The NHC says the storm is forecast to move north-northeast around 6 a.m.
It is expected near Pensaccola, but is expected only a couple hours later in the Bahamas, a tropical storm center forecast.
Irma will then turn north-northwest and make landfall somewhere between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, according an NHC forecast.
Irra is expected in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Straits, the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Gulf Coast.