Hurricane Irma, an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm, is now moving toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and its current track suggests landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend. Right now, the track looks as if it will hit southern Florida. Depending on whether or not it weakens as it moves through the Lesser Antilles, it could be one of the most powerful hurricane strikes in the history of the state.
If its track misses Florida, it will enter the Gulf of Mexico, probably as a tropical storm, then gain strength again, once more becoming a hurricane. Due to unusually warm ocean waters, the storm has the potential, like Sandy, Katrina and Harvey, to become extremely powerful in a short period of time.
Right now, the track suggests that the eye will pass over land somewhere south of Miami.
The storm poses a threat to life in Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and southeastern Bahamas.
With maximum winds of 185 mph, Irma is tied with 2005’s Hurricane Wilma for the strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic. In its Tuesday morning report, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is in an area “ideal for some additional intensification.”