This is now a monster storm with 175 mph winds, and it's headed to the Greater Antilles, including Puerto Rico, which is already in dire economic straits.
It's now likely that Irma will at the very least affect the U.S. coast — and may make landfall in Florida this weekend.
Irma is now one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
The National Hurricane Center called Hurricane Irma an “extremely dangerous” storm Tuesday morning. “Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area,” the forecasters wrote in their 8 a.m. update. Devastating winds, a major storm surge and flash floods are all likely in the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico in the next 48 hours.
Over the weekend, the forecast track for this potentially devastating hurricane shifted south and west. It seems likely now that the storm will affect or strike the U.S. coast early next week, although meteorologists don’t know exactly where. Florida and the Gulf Coast continue to be at risk. The East Coast, including the Carolinas and the Delmarva Peninsula, are also potential candidates for landfall — or, at the very least, heavy rain, strong winds and coastal flooding.
If you live near the Atlantic coast, prepare for this storm: Buy water, batteries, canned food. If you don't need it, great. If you do need it, you'll be glad you have it.
Remember: Irma's wind field is expected to extend 300 miles.