Hurricane Irma Rapidly Intensifies Far Out In Atlantic Ocean

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — Hurricane Irma has been rapidly intensified into a Category 3 storm recent days far over the Atlantic, and is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through the weekend.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 115 mph with higher gusts. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph. This motion is expected to continue today, followed by a westward turn on Saturday, and a west-southwestward motion by Sunday.

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Irma formed along a course that could bring it near the eastern Caribbean Sea by early next week. The storm’s center was about 650 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa Thursday morning.

Then storm is expected to be an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days. It is forecast to become a Category 4 storm on Tuesday as it approaches just to the east of islands such as St. Lucia, CBS2’s Lonnie Quinn reported.

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth’s meteorologist Jeff Jamison says computer models for Irma differ on where the storm makes landfall. Only 10 to 15 percent of hurricanes located where Irma is have struck the United States.

Quinn reports the storm is moving west-northwest, though it is much too early to determine where if anywhere it will make landfall. He advises watching the storm closely.

Irma comes on the heels of Hurricane Harvey. Thousands in southeast Texas have been displaced by the storm due to torrential rain and flooding.

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