The National Hurricane Center advised late Thursday afternoon that Irma has become a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.
Irma is forecast to to roar into an "extremely dangerous" major hurricane over the next several days. "This motion is expected to continue today, followed by a westward turn on Saturday, and a west-southwestward motion by Sunday". As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Irma strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday Irma had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour with higher gusts.
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The forecasts of a busy Atlantic hurricane season are proving accurate.
Irma will not reach the longitude of the Lesser Antilles (eastern Caribbean) until the middle of next week but could still be a formidably intense hurricane at that time.
It is too soon to know whether Irma will pose a threat to the US mainland.
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Tropical Storm Irma came within 500 miles of the Azores before petering out on October 5, according to the National Weather Service.
"There is the potential for Irma to ramp up to a powerful hurricane in the coming days", according to AccuWeather. We will be updating our coverage of Irma frequently based on the latest forecast guidance for its future track and intensity.
NHC will be initiating advisories at 11 AM AST on Tropical Storm Irma, located west of the Cabo Verde Islands.
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