The continental United States is preparing for another major hurricane just weeks after Harvey unleashed torrential rains over southeastern Texas, leading to catastrophic flooding, the displacement of thousands, and the deaths of at least 60 people.
Hurricane Irma strengthened into an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm early Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. By Tuesday afternoon, Irma packed maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, making it the strongest hurricane recorded in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, according to hurricane records.
Irma is expected to pass over the Leeward Islands, a chain that includes the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Tuesday night or early Wednesday. The hurricane will then continue its westward churn toward Puerto Rico. Later in the week and over the weekend, the storm could reach Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Florida.
Here’s a look at Irma, which the National Hurricane Center says is breaking records:
And here’s a satellite view:
Storm advisories are in effect for more than a dozen island nations and territories in the Caribbean, including hurricane warnings for parts of the Leeward Islands. The governors of Puerto Rico and Florida have declared states of emergency.