CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hurricane Irma regained strength to a Category 3 storm on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as it moves west-southwest at about 15 mph.
Experts are continuing to gather information on and track Irma, however, they say any landfall forecast is still too far out. The latest data from the National Weather Service said Irma may affect southern Florida.
"You need to start really watching and getting your hurricane plan ready in South Florida," First Warn Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said.
Irma remained a Category 3 storm in the Atlantic Monday. The Hurricane Center predicted the most likely arrival time of Irma's tropical-storm-force winds will arrive in southern Florida around 8 a.m. Friday.
As of Monday, hurricane watches were issued for St. Martin and St. Thomas as it continued to move to the west.
"It could be very close to Puerto Rico," Meteorologist John Wendel said. "You can see the computer models are very consistent through the Bahamas but after that they get a little wishy washy once they move towards the United States but that's more than a week away."
While the east coast continues to wait and brace itself for the possibility of a hurricane, Panovich said it's not something to "freak out over" yet. He did however, say that it's important to pay attention to the weather.
"Especially if you live on the coast," he said. "This storm, like any storm during the middle of hurricane season, you just have to watch very carefully. But you still have a week before it approaches the east coast or makes landfall."
"By Wednesday, Thursday, we'll have a really good idea where [Irma] is at," Panovich said.
Panovich said threats from Irma could be wind, surge, rain or tornados.
"Those threats could change based on landfall," he said. "It's Important to figure out the impact -- whether it's floods, tornados, winds or surge... It could be all."
He said preparation is key. Panovich said it is important to be weather aware by preparing a storm-ready first aid kit.
Stick with WCNC.com throughout the week for updates on Hurricane Irma and the latest forecast.
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