Irma returns to Category 3 strength, still could pose threat to South Florida

Storm expected to remain powerful hurricane, could intensify further

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – After slightly weakening on its journey across the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma has once again reached Category 3 strength.

Irma was moving west at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, with gusts at 150 mph.

The storm decreased in strength early Friday as it was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, but quickly regained wind speed.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said some fluctuation in strength is possible during the next few days, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane throughout the weekend.

The 5 p.m. advisory does not show Irma strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane until the middle of next week.

"There is uncertainty the farther you go out in time," says Local 10 Chief Certified Meteorologist Betty Davis.

Models vary on where Irma is headed, but everyone, including the U.S. needs to keep an eye on Irma.

"This is something that the Leeward Islands, the Caribbean islands will wanted to pay attention to, including us here in South Florida," warned Davis.

Irma developed into a tropical storm Wednesday and quickly became a Category 3 storm.

The storm is taking a predictable path towards the south before heading back towards the north-northwest.

"We don't like to see a storm go farther south in latitude because that just means there's a higher chance" it will encounter land, Local 10 News meteorologist Jennifer Correa said.

The European computer model has the storm at risk of impacting the Leeward Islands and the Greater Antilles by Wednesday.

Early next week, South Florida residents will need to pay close attention to changes in the track of Irma, as the storm moves into an environment of minimum wind shear and warm waters.

A ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic could weaken and allow Irma to stay out at sea. But if the ridge strengthens, the force will put Irma on a track that could pose a threat to South Florida residents next week.

Be sure to download the Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide to keep you safe before, during and after a storm. 

Remember to stay up to date on the all the latest storm news by downloading the Max Tracker app for iOS and ANDROID.

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