PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a dangerous Category 5 hurricane as it bears down on the Leeward Islands, and will rake through the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispañola, the Bahamas and Cuba before posing a dangerous threat to Florida and parts of the Southeast beginning this weekend.
Below is everything we know about Irma right now, including its latest status, along with potential forecast impacts in the U.S. and the Caribbean Islands.
Irma's Latest Status, Timing
The center of Irma is located just under 300 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is moving westward at about 15 mph.
Irma's maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph based on data from NOAA and Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Based on wind speed, Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Felix and Dean in 2007 which also had maximum sustained winds of 175 mph.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This includes Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Vieques and Culebra.
Additionally, both a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning have been issued for Guadeloupe, and a tropical storm warning is in effect for Dominica.
A hurricane watch is also now in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Engano to the Haiti border.