(NOAA via AP)

Irma, the strongest Atlantic storm in a decade, barrels toward U.S.

With winds topping 185mph, the storm may make landfall in Florida


Jeremy Binckes
September 5, 2017 9:09PM (UTC)

Hurricane Irma — now Tropical Storm Irma — is quickly developing into a monster storm in the Atlantic Ocean and, according to forecasts, is taking aim at the Florida keys.

Experts consider Irma the strongest Atlantic storm in a decade. Irma is packing winds of 185 mph, according to a National Hurricane Center report Tuesday — higher than Hurricane Katrina's top speeds of 174 mph.

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The Hurricane Center warned that Irma is a "potentially catastrophic category 5" that will likely devastate Caribbean Islands. A hurricane warning has been issued for a number of islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while a watch has been issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The path of the storm, according to the government, may take it directly south of Florida. In this worst-case scenario, the storm would avoid the mountains of Cuba and Hispaniola, which would ordinarily be damaging for a hurricane due to wind shear.

In less than a week, Hurricane Irma — with wind speeds expected to be at or near 150 mph, according to CNN forecasts — may make a right turn to the north, and shoot up Florida.

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It's too early to predict where the storm will make landfall, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn't release warnings for more than three days out. But the Hurricane Center has said that Floridians and anyone in "hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that he declared a state of emergency before the storm hit, according to the Miami Herald.

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Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Florida Hurricane Harvey Hurricane Irma Hurricanes News Science Super Storm Irma Tropical Storm Irma Weather

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