Irma continues to rapidly strengthen in the Atlantic. As of the 11 AM advisory on Thursday, winds had increased to 100 mph with higher gusts. The storm is in an environment where further intenstification is likely. We could see it reach major hurricane status on Friday and possibly up to a Category 4 by early next week.
The future track is still highly uncertain, with some long-rage models hinting at a recurve before reaching the US East Coast, while others, such as the European model try to bring the storm toward Florida or into the eastern Gulf. It is still way too early to speculate on where it may go eventually as the steering patterns that will set up when the storm approaches the U.S. cannot be forecast with any great skill this far in advance. The trend however is looking more ominous for the US East Coast, the Bahams and parts of Lesser/Greater Antilles. Any impacts would be well over a week away, so there is plenty of time to watch and prepare. We'll keep you updated.
FOX 4 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST DEREK BEASLEY