(TNS) - Hurricane Irma is a Category 3 hurricane once more, the National Hurricane Center reports, and it increasingly looks to be headed for the continental U.S., at least if it maintains its current projected track.
The storm is currently about 800 miles east of the Leeward Islands, moving west-southwest at 15 mph. It has maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, with gusts up to 138 mph.
Irma is expected to become even stronger as it continues its journey through the Atlantic, and will likely become a Category 4 on Wednesday. Sustained winds of roughly 138 mph with gusts of nearly 167 mph expected before winds calm by a few mph on Thursday and Friday as the storm maintains its Category 4 status.
No coastal watches or warnings have yet been issued for Irma, and it is not certain where or when it might make landfall. However, the NHC does recommend that anyone in hurricane prone areas keep an eye on the system, and ensure that they have their hurricane plans ready.
They also note that this recommendation has more to do with it being the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season than from any specific threat posed by Irma.
Taking a less conservative stance on the threat posed by Irma, AccuWeather’s most recent update calls the storm “a serious threat for the Caribbean Islands and the United States.”
There are also several more speculative forecast models out there that could be alarming to coastal U.S. residents.
Right now, Irma is a very powerful but very compact storm, but it is expected to grow in coming days according to the NHC. Its growth into a physically larger hurricane might effect when watches and warnings might be issued for it.
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