Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm, and could be one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is warning that Irma could potentially be catastrophic, with¬†winds whirling at 180 miles per hour – so strong that they are showing up on earthquake monitoring equipment. Even worse, the NHC said there’s an increasing chance the storm will slam into¬†Florida.

With the United States still reeling after Tropical Storm Harvey, communities are bracing for another catastrophe as Irma is looking like it will impact Florida later this week or during the weekend. But there are also many other islands it could hit on its way to the United States. Irma could affect the Leeward Islands as an “extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane” soon, according to NHC. It could also impact the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, and Cuba.

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NHC said it’s too early to determine Irma’s direct impacts on the continental United States, other than an increasing chance it could affect the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys.

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Florida governor Rick Scott doesn’t seem to be taking any chances. He declared a state of emergency in Florida after a Monday advisory update. He’s activated 100 National Guard members and 6,000 stand ready. He’s spoken with President Donald Trump, and the Orlando Sentinel said Trump activated pre-landfall emergency declaration so federal funds and resources will be available.

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Scott said, “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared…while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.” According to the Orlando Sentinel, most forecast models indicate the whole state of Florida could feel the hurricane’s impact.

NHC urged everyone in hurricane-prone areas to “ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.”

Via the Orlando Sentinel and the National Hurricane Center

Images via Wikimedia Commons and the National Hurricane Center