This Is When The Unprecedented Hurricane Irma Will Sweep Through Florida

by Lani Seelinger
Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're in Florida right now, then here's one piece of good news for you: You still have time to get out before Hurricane Irma hits. There are numerous models forecasting when Hurricane Irma will hit Florida, and they all agree on a few certainties — namely, that Florida will sustain a direct hit from Irma, but that it won't come until late Saturday. So, if you're still in the area of southern Florida that's just been placed under a hurricane warning by the National Weather Service, then you should hop in your car and go for a little drive north.

Irma is a huge, slow-moving storm, so Floridians will start seeing its effects in waves, both literally and figuratively. The surf will already have gotten stronger by Friday morning, producing bigger waves and a stronger rip current. Tropical-storm-force winds of up to 73 miles per hour should be arriving by Saturday morning in South Florida, so if you have any preparations to make to your house, you'll want to have them done well before then. The next wave will begin late Saturday and into Sunday, and it's the most damaging. It will include everything that a Category 4 storm usually brings, meaning hurricane-force winds, the potentially devastating storm surge, and even possibly flooding rain.

While the various models are essentially in agreement about when Irma will come in contact with Florida, it's still too far out to say exactly where it will bring the worst of its power. The hurricane is wider than Florida's landmass, though, so there is likely nowhere on the Florida peninsula that won't be at least somewhat affected. And given the sheer power that Irma's packing, the experts agree that this is going to be a truly devastating event.

"Unfortunately, there is no way the United States is going to avoid another catastrophic weather event," said Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president, and chairman of AccuWeather. "There will be massive damage in Florida. [It will be] the worst single hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992."

According to Accuweather's predictions, conditions in South Florida will quickly turn from just blustery to downright dangerous and indeed "life-threatening" late on Saturday. The storm will then make its way north, bringing lashing winds and rain to most of the state — even if it does weaken to a Category 3 storm as it moves across more and more land. Those living in the more northern regions of Florida should not take this to mean that they are in the clear — if Irma does reach North Florida as a Category 3 storm late Sunday and into Monday, it could still potentially cause a lot of damage.