GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma approaching Anguilla at about 7:00 am (eastern) today, September 6, 2017. According to the latest information from NOAA's National Hurricane Center (issued at 8:00 am eastern), Irma was located about 15 miles west-southwest of Anguilla and moving toward the west-northwest near 16 miles per hour. The extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the northern Virgin Islands today, pass near or just north of Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight, and pass near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic Thursday (9/7). Irma's maximum sustained winds remain near 185 mph with higher gusts, making it a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days. Created by our partners at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, the experimental geocolor imagery enhancement shown here displays geostationary satellite data in different ways depending on whether it is day or night. This image, captured as daylight moves into the area, offers a blend of both, with nighttime features on the left side of the image and daytime on the right. In nighttime imagery (seen on the left side of this image), liquid water clouds appear in shades of blue, ice clouds are grayish-white, water looks black, and land appears gray. (The city lights are a static background created with VIIRS Day/Night Band imagery. It does not show any existing power outages.) In daytime imagery (shown on the right side of the image), land and shallow-water features appear as they do in true-color imagery. Please note: GOES-16 data are currently experimental and under-going testing and hence should not be used operationally. For the latest information on Hurricane Irma, including storm-related hazards likely to affect land, visit the National Hurricane Center's website at www.nhc.noaa.gov. #NOAA #NOAASatellites #GOES16 #Irma

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As Hurricane Irma closes in on the Virgin Islands, and mandatory evacuations begin taking place in the Keys, us locals are waiting with bated breath to see what path the storm ultimately takes. You can see current models on the National Hurricane Center's website; the NHS calls Irma a "potentially catastrophic" storm with current maximum sustained winds at a whopping 185 mph, and gusts even higher. It's about 400 miles wide.

If you're making your hurricane plans and are staying in town, the City of Sarasota has some helpful tips to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Have enough water and food to last at least three days.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, such as patio furniture.
  • Fill any prescriptions (Sarasota Memorial Hospital recommends having a 30-day supply).
  • Plan ahead for your pets.
  • Consider storing extra water in containers available in the home (i.e. water bottles, pots and pans).
  • Learn where the nearest shelter is located.
  • Monitor local media and city social media for evacuation notices, and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.

Stay safe, everyone. 

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