National Hurricane Center: Irma maintaining strength as Cat 5 storm

The 11 p.m. Friday forecast for Irma.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hurricane Irma has maintained its strength Friday evening as a 160 mph, Category 5 storm as its southwestern eye wall moves over Cuba.

Irma is about 300 miles southeast of Miami as of the 11 p.m. Sept. 8, update from the National Hurricane Center. It is moving west at 13 mph. 

The minimum central pressure is 924 mb, or 27.29 inches. 

Related: What you need to know Friday about Hurricane Irma

Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for parts of Florida's west coast and the southern part of the state in advance of Irma, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida up to the Anclote River.

The watch reaches to Indian Pass in the Panhandle and now includes Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Irma’s wind speeds are forecast to decrease as it gets closer to the Florida Coast.

Here's a breakdown of the Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the National Hurricane Center:

Category 1 - 74-95 mph sustained winds: Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

Category 2 - 96-110 mph sustained winds: Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

Category 3 - 111-129 mph sustained winds: Devastating damage will occur

Category 4 - 130-156 mph sustained winds: Catastrophic damage will occur

Category 5 - 157 mph or higher sustained winds: Catastrophic damage will occur ("a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed)

Thousands of people have evacuated after the NHC issued hurricane warnings for South Florida. More than a half-million people have been ordered to leave the region ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Gov. Rick Scott ordered all public schools, colleges and universities to close Friday through Monday.

The governor told residents not to become complacent because the storm could have "major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast."

Photos: Hurricane Irma's damage and destruction

Editor's Note: Information from the Associated Press is used in this story.

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