As the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma strengthens into a Category 3 storm and becomes a growing concern for the United States. Irma may make landfall anywhere from the central Gulf Coast all the way up to the mid-Atlantic region, possibly hitting the U.S. early next week, CBS reported.
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Currently, the storm is turning off to the west, due to an area of high pressure, and is heading toward the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Bahamas. Eventually it may become a Category 4 storm and is expected to head to the north, reported CBS meteorologist Jeff Jamison. Over time, it will be possible to fine-tune the forecast more, but as of now, there is a wide area of the U.S. that could be impacted by a landfall, Jamison added.
Authorities are warning residents of the eastern Caribbean islands to prepare for Hurricane Irma, likely to start impacting the region on Tuesday. The Antigua and Barbuda weather service said Irma was expected to bring heavy rains, rough surf and high winds, reported Fox News, who stated that hurricane watches were posted for not only Antigua and Barbuda, but also Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kits and Nevis, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, and the British Virgin Islands.
Islands further to the north, such as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, should prepare for Irma, which may head in their direction next, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The center also reported Irma had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph Monday morning, and strengthening was expected through Tuesday night. The storm was moving west-southwest at 14 mph.
Antigua’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, asked people to take precautions in case the storm should hit the Caribbean island. “I take this opportunity to ask the able-bodied adults and homeowners across the country to take all necessary actions to safeguard their own properties, and to secure their valuables,” Browne said in an official statement regarding Hurricane Irma’s threat. “The passage of a hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly, although we ought not panic. Please, however, do all that is necessary to ensure that our families’ lives, properties and valuable possessions are not placed in any danger because of negligence or failure to heed the warnings.”
According to Nola, most models have Irma passing directly over Florida by next weekend, starting at its southern tip, or moving to make landfall somewhere from Georgia to North Carolina. Some models predict the storm may head up Florida’s Gulf Coast, the news outlet reported.
Meanwhile, the Hurricane Harvey death toll has risen to 50, a week after the storm first hit the state of Texas, and hundreds of people are missing after floods damaged or destroyed homes.