While the likely years-long recovery from the catastrophic flooding unleashed by Harvey is underway in Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma is quickly gaining strength in the Atlantic and could potentially hit the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the storm has been upgraded to a Category 5 Hurricane with 175mph winds as of Tuesday morning, making it one of the strongest hurricanes in history.
Forecasters expect Irma to roar into the Caribbean, slamming portions of the Leeward Islands as soon as late Tuesday and the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, according to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Later this week, Irma could hit Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba as an "extremely dangerous major hurricane." As for the US mainland, the agency said there's an "increasing chance" of impacts along the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys this weekend, but also said that it's still too early to say how the storm will affect the rest of the continental US.
At the time of the upgrade to a Category 5, Irma was located about 270 miles east of Antigua, moving west at 14mph.