Hurricane Irma: Another extremely dangerous storm is heading towards US Gulf Coast reeling from Harvey
Winds expected to reach 140mph
A storm gathering force over the Atlantic has been rated a category three hurricane and is forecast to become “extremely dangerous” in the coming days.
America’s National Hurricane Centre said the storm’s winds had reached 115mph by Thursday afternoon and it was moving west at a speed of around 12mph.
“Irma has become an impressive hurricane,” the National Hurricane Centre said on Thursday, “this is a remarkable 50 knot (58 mph) increase from yesterday at this time.”
Irma is forecast to reach winds of 140mph and become a category four hurricane, but its trajectory remains uncertain.
“The American models take it to the Carolinas by next Sunday,” WKMG Orlandometeorologist Troy Bridges said.
“The European models have it going to Cuba and possibly threatening South Florida. It’s just too early to tell.”
The announcement came after Hurricane Harvey, which brought unprecedented levels of rain and severe flooding to Texas, was downgraded to a tropical storm.
At least 31 people have died after the storm, the most powerful to hit Texas in more than 50 years, made landfall.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association predicted that hurricane season would be more active than usual this year. It expected up to 19 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of which would become major hurricanes.
Nine named storms and four hurricanes, including Harvey, have developed so far in 2017.
Irma is a Cape Verde hurricane, which form in the far eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands and travels across the Atlantic. Cape Verde storms often form the biggest and most intense hurricanes.