Hurricane Irma Strengthens Into a Category 5 as it Bears Down on the Leeward Islands
Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a dangerous Category 5 hurricane as it bears down on the Leeward Islands, and will rake through the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispañola, the Bahamas and Cuba before posing a serious threat to Florida and parts of the Southeast beginning this weekend.
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Irma’s Latest Status, Timing
The center of Irma is located just under 300 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is moving westward at about 15 mph.
Irma’s maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph based on data from NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Based on wind speed, Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Felix and Dean in 2007 which also had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph.
Additionally, Irma is just the 17th Atlantic hurricane to have maximum sustained winds of 175 mph or greater, according to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University.