Irene Expected to Stay East of Florida - NBC 6 South Florida
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Irene Expected to Stay East of Florida

Hurricane could intensify, bring heavy wind and rain to South Florida



    Irene Expected to Stay East of Florida

     Irene was expected to become a major Category 3 hurricane within the next day and was forecasted to track through the Bahamas before skirting to the east of South Florida, officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Tuesday.

    As of 8 p.m., Irene was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph as it moved west-northwest at 9 mph about 50 miles west southwest of Grand Turk Island and 90 miles east of Great Inagua Island.

    Hurricane force winds extend 40 miles from the center of the storm, and tropical storm force winds extend 205 miles from its center.

    Irene was starting to move away from the Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday night and was expected to intensify.

    Meteorologists said Irene will become a Category 3 by early Wednesday as it will be fueled by the warm Atlantic Ocean waters.

    Though it's expected to mostly miss Florida, staying about 200 miles east of the shore, it will be closest to South Florida late Thursday.

    Floridians still need to keep an eye on Irene as higher wind gusts are possible even without a direct hit, NBC Miami meteorologists said. But the left side of the storm, which is where Florida is forecasted to remain, typically has less wind and rain than the right side of the system.
    Hurricane center Director Bill Read said Tuesday that the greatest impacts on South Florida from Irene will likely be beach erosion, rip tides, strong surf, rain and maybe tropical storm force winds.
    But the probability for Miami to feel tropical storm force winds has decreased to 22 percent.

    A hurricane warning remained in effect for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands. A hurricane watch for parts of the north coast of Haiti was discontinued, along with a tropical storm warning for the north coast of the Dominican Republic and the north coast of Haiti.

    The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation recommended Tuesday that visitors postpone travel to the islands this week due to Irene.
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