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Irma Upgraded to Category 5 — Called a “Life-Threatening Storm” Heading for Florida

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Hurricane Irma heading for Florida

Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane, with winds at 185 mph as of 8 p.m. ET.

The storm is still on a trajectory for Florida but it could still steer up the east coast or west coast — direction is unknown at this time.

GMA reports:

Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm, and catastrophic damage is possible in the Florida Keys and southern Florida this weekend as a second storm has formed behind it.

Irma was packing 185 mph winds and gusts of more than 200 mph as of 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, and is expected to continue churning with deadly hurricane-force winds and a dangerous storm surge across a wide swath of the Caribbean this week before moving toward southern Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

The dangerous storm is currently 85 miles east of Antigua and moving west at 15 mph. Hurricane watches and warnings have been issued across Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba and the Leeward Islands. Conditions across the northern Leeward Islands will begin to deteriorate soon.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jose has formed over the open Atlantic, following closely behind Irma, the NHC said Tuesday. Jose could become a Category 2 hurricane as it brushes the northeastern-most Caribbean islands at the end of the week. However, Jose poses no threat to the U.S. or Puerto Rico as of Tuesday.

The NHC warned that residents in the Leeward Islands, already expected to face Irma, “should monitor the track” of Jose.

The NHC on Tuesday called Irma the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico in NHC records.

By Sunday around 8 a.m., the hurricane is expected to be near the Florida Keys with winds of 145 mph as a Category 4 hurricane.

It is still unclear whether the storm will track up the east or west coast of Florida. If Irma travels up Florida’s west coast, it would present worst-case scenarios for Gulf cities from Naples to Tampa. If the storm travels up Florida’s east coast, the “bad” side of the storm would remain off-shore, but it could later make landfall somewhere between Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.

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