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Hurricane Irma reaches Category 5, barrels toward Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

Florida Governor Rick Scott has already warned the state, tweeting out several safety reminders.
(Graphic via National Hurricane Center)
(Graphic via National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Irma strengthened into a Category 5 storm on Tuesday as it continued on its western path across the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm would hit the northeastern Leeward Islands soon, “accompanied by dangerous wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts, along with rough surf and rip currents,” the NHC reported. In an 8 a.m. advisory on Tuesday, the NHC said Irma is "extremely dangerous" and that "preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area." The Dominican Republic government has already announced a Hurricane Watch.

Florida Governor Rick Scott warned the state to be on alert, tweeting out several safety reminders on Sunday. “As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, families should make sure their Disaster Supply Kits are ready today,” he said. “FL knows how important it is to be prepared. Encourage your loved ones to have a plan ahead of any potential storm.”

The storm system has varied in intensity but jumped from Category 3 to Category 5 within a few days. Officials have said the eventual scale of the storm is difficult to predict.

“Irma is expected to remain a dangerous major hurricane through the upcoming week and could directly effect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba,” the NHC said. While Governor Scott prepares his state, the NHC says it’s still too early to know for sure what the impact on the U.S. may be, but preparedness is key. 

Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency and activated the national guard, Reuters reported.

"There is no positive sign that it’s going to go in another direction," said Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello. "We’re expecting that it’s coming at Puerto Rico with force, and we’ve got to be ready for it."