Hurricane Irma's long awaited turn expected on Saturday

- The latest Hurricane Irma track moved slightly west as of Saturday morning, but FOX 13's meteorologists said the impact to Tampa Bay depends on where it makes landfall.

The turn is expected to happen on Saturday. The further it shifts west, the center of the core -- where the worse winds are located -- will be in the Tampa Bay area, said Meteorologist Dave Osterberg.

Meteorologist Lindsay Milbourne said Irma is expected to be a Category 2 or 3 in Tampa Bay from Sunday night into Monday morning.

If the current track holds, wind gusts can be as high as 100 mph in Sarasota and Manatee counties, with threats of tornados.

Hillsborough and Pinellas counties can see the same wind speeds with a greater risk for tornadoes in the northeast portion of Hillsborough County. Tampa Bay waters can see a storm surge from three to five feet high.

Storm surge won't be an issue for the interior counties, this includes Polk and Highlands counties. However, high winds is a concern and could result in a long period of no electricity.

The northern counties -- this includes Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties -- can see up to 80 mph of winds with the possibility of tornadoes. They may also seen a storm surge from three to five feet high.

On Sunday morning, Irma will begin to travel over the Keys. This will be a devastating situation for the lower half of the Keys, Osterberg said.

Chief Meteorologist Paul Dellegatto said the long awaited turn to the northwest should occur later on Saturday.

"That shift will finally provide some answers on the exact path Irma will take as it approaches Florida," he said. "The angle is key, especially when it comes to storm surge flooding. The worst storm surge flooding always occurs to the right of the point of landfalls. So, the landfall location is critical."

He provided the following based on the overnight track:

  • The devil really is in the details. Because of the storms position southeast of the state, any tiny shift in track now ends up potentially being a bigger shift later as Irma nears the state. We don't want to see the storm stay over water longer resulting in stronger hurricane making landfall closer to Tampa Bay. That would not be good.
  • Saturday is going to be a busy day. Finish up your storm preps while keeping one eye on Irma developments. If you are told to evacuate a coastal location, then evacuate. My weather team and I will monitoring Irma's track and intensity non-stop. I will let you know of any critical updates as they happen.
  • Keep everything in perspective. It is a storm that will bring us a very, very nasty spell of weather. It is all about keeping you and your family safe. Try not to dwell on damage and cleanup. The aftermath will be very messy with no power and a major cleanup, but at the end of the day we will carry on. We have important things to do, like waiting for the first cold front! I will keep you posted as we ride out this storm together.

LINK: Track Hurricane Irma on MyFoxHurricane.com

Current watches and warnings in effect as of 5 a.m. Saturday include: 

Storm Surge Warning:
-Volusia/Brevard County Line southward around the Florida peninsula to Anclote River
-Florida Keys
-Tampa Bay

Storm Surge Watch:.
-North of the Volusia/Brevard County Line to the Flagler/Volusia County line
-North of Anclote River to Suwannee River

Hurricane Warning:
-Volusia/Brevard County Line southward around the Florida peninsula to Anclote River
-Florida Keys
-Lake Okeechobee
-Florida Bay
-Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, and Matanzas
-Central Bahamas and Ragged Island
-Northwestern Bahamas

Hurricane Watch:
-North of the Volusia/Brevard County Line to Fernandina Beach
-North and west of Anclote River to Indian Pass
-Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas

Tropical Storm Warning:
-Cuban provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas, La Habana, and Ciudad de la Habana

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