The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Hurricane Irma to a category 5, as it intensifies on its approach to the Caribbean islands.
“Irma continues to strengthen and maximum sustained winds have increased to near 175mph (280kph) with higher gusts – an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” the National Hurricane Center said on Facebook.
A number of Caribbean islands have been warned that they’re in the direct path of the storm, which is expected to arrive at the Leeward Islands on Tuesday night.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra.
A state of emergency was declared in Florida in preparation for Irma. Governor Rick Scott said President Donald Trump has offered the state the “full resources of the federal government.”
Just spoke to @POTUS – he offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma.
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 5, 2017
Leeward Island could see increases in water levels of up to 9ft in coastal areas, the meteorological office of Antigua and Barbuda warned.
READ MORE: Hurricane Irma: Florida governor declares state of emergency as Caribbean brace for impact