SITUATION: As of 1100 EDT, Hurricane Irma was located about 75 miles east-northeast of Pureto Plata, Dominican Republic and about 120 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Irma is still moving west-northwest at approximately 16 miles per hour, has maximum sustained winds of 175 MPH, still making it a dangerous Category 5 hurricane. The minimum central pressure is 27.20″, which is extremely low. Hurricane Irma now holds the record as the hurricane that has held Category 5 intensity for the longest.

Hurricane Watches and a Tropical Storm Warning are in effect for much of the coastline of Cuba. Hurricane Warnings are now in effect for all of the Bahamas. New for the current advisory are the following watches: A Storm Surge Watch has been issued for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for the Florida peninsula from Jupiter Inlet southward and around the peninsula to Bonita Beach, including the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay. This includes Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Glades, and Hendry Counties.  At this time there are no watches or warnings for any counties in the West Central Florida Section but that could change sometimes soon, particularly in the inland counties.  The inland counties are the mostly likely to be impacted, with the current forecast track.

The forecast track in basically unchanged since yesterday. Irma is expected to continue its west-northwest track going around the southern periphery of the mid Atlantic ridge of high pressure. Once it reaches the southwestern side of the high, Irma is forecast to turn northwest, then north and toward Florida in response to a trough of low pressure coming out of the continental United States heading towards Florida, which will erode the mid Atlantic high pressure ridge slightly. The center of the track is forecast to move over the eastern coastline of the Florida peninsula. However, pay attention to the cone of uncertainty.  Now covers most of the state of Florida, except the panhandle.

Hurricane Irma Forecast Discussion: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCDAT1+shtml/061448.shtml

Hurricane Irma Graphical Forecast Track: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at1+shtml/145453.shtml?cone#contents

ACTIONS:  At this time, Highlands, Hillsborough and Polk Counties have either opened shelters or in the process of preparing to open shelters and the ARES groups in these counties have been asked to provide communications support for these operations. Other counties in the West Central Florida Section are considering shelter operations. Therefore in support of these activations or planned activations, West Central Florida Section ARES remains at a Level 2 activation to provide any needed support for these activations, either current or planned. All ARES, ACS, and CERT personnel are requested to continue to closely monitor the National Hurricane Center latest advisories on Hurricane Irma and to be in communications with their respective leadership in case their assistance with communications support is needed.

The Section Manager and the Section Emergency Coordinator will be participating in two conference calls this evening.  One with ARRL HQ, the other Florida, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands Section Managers and Section Emergency Coordinators, and Florida Divsion of Emergency Management.  The second call with the Section ARES Emergency Coordinators.  If necessary, another special session of the WCF Section ARES Net will be held on the NI4CE Repeater System.  There are plans being made to use SARNet for a state wide net to coordinate mutual aid and relief between various county EOC’s and the State EOC.

The next WCF SECTION SPECIAL BULLETIN for Hurricane Irma will be issued tomorrow at 1100 EDT, or sooner if conditions warrant.