CARIBBEAN - Hurricane Irma strengthened Thursday into a Category 3 storm with 115 mph sustained winds and is forecast to be an "extremely dangerous" storm for the next several days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In its 5 p.m. ET advisory, the NHC said the storm was located over the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, about 720 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, moving west-northwest at 12 mph.
"Fluctuations in strength, both up and down, are possible, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane for several days," the advisory read.
Earlier in the day, the weather service said Irma is expected to be "an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days," and is forecast to become a category 4 storm east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean by next week.
Fox News Senior Meterologist Janice Dean said Thursday it's still too early to tell whether Irma will pass well north of the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, or have direct impacts there by next Wednesday or Thursday.