Irma now a Category 4 hurricane, expected to strengthen
Monday, September 4, 2017, 8:27 AM - Forecasters continue to watch Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm in the mid-Atlantic that is on track to enter the Caribbean.
After becoming a hurricane mid-last week, the storm strengthened rapidly, reaching Category 4 status on Monday night.
As Irma moves toward the west-southwest, the centre will track closer to the Leeward Islands Tuesday night into early Wednesday, with additional strengthening expected, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The storm has produced sustained winds of at least 215 km/h, and is expected to further intensify in the next 48 hours.
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Swells generated by Irma are likely to begin impacting the northern Leeward Islands Monday.
As for the storm's track, The Weather Network meteorologist Michael Carter says the long-term is uncertain as the storm moves into the western Atlantic after its origins near the west coast African islands of Cape Verde.
"While many Cape Verde storms recurve northward without impacting North America, some do manage to track far enough west before making the turn that they pose a more significant threat to land," Carter says. "At this stage, it’s too early to predict what path Irma will take, but given the likelihood of its continued intensification, Irma will need to be monitored very closely as we move into the work week."
Closer to the coast, Texas continues to deal with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, which has been blamed for more than 40 deaths and has left thousands homeless.
Remnants from the storm is expected to bring rain to much of central and northeastern U.S. and Canada as the moisture moves northward up the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys.