Florida And The Caribbean Are Preparing For Hurricane Irma As It Strengthens

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The U.S. has already faced one major hurricane this summer. Days later, it may face another. Just as the Houston area begins recovering from the worst of Hurricane Harvey, meteorologists' attention is now turning to where Hurricane Irma will hit.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 5, the National Hurricane Center designated Irma a Category 5 Hurricane with winds up to 175 mph and gusts upwards of 200 mph, which makes the storm more powerful than Harvey was at peak intensity.

The night before, when Irma was still a Category 4 storm, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for all of the state's 67 counties. That's because Irma is expected hit Florida during the weekend.

Before the weekend, though, Irma expected to travel through the Caribbean ahead of touching the U.S. mainland.

Where will Irma hit?

Here's the path the storm is projected to take, according to a projection from CBS News:

On Tuesday morning, Hurricane Irma was observed in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Caribbean Sea. By Wednesday, the storm is projected to have hit several small islands east of Puerto Rico, including the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On Thursday, the storm is expected to then impact Puerto Rico, which has also declared a state of emergency. Afterwards, Hurricane Irma would be on track to hit the Northern parts of Haiti and Dominican Republic by Friday.

The Weather Channel

Afterwards, Irma is expected to hit Cuba by Saturday, at which point it is projected to turn upwards towards the Florida Keys and the southern part of mainland Florida.

The level of intensity of the storm at that point could be below the Category 5 strength Irma was clocked at on Tuesday morning.

Regardless of how strong Irma is by the weekend, it's clear Florida is preparing for the worst. Gov. Scott said in a statement on Monday,

In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared.

Hurricane Irma would be just the second hurricane at category 3 or stronger to his the U.S. in the past 12 years. The first was Hurricane Harvey.