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IRMA EXPECTED TO BE A “MAJOR HURRICANE”

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Far out over the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma was expected to remain a small but powerful storm throughout the weekend while following a course that could bring it near the eastern Caribbean Sea by early next week.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said late Saturday that the storm is expected to be a “major hurricane” and could cause “dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall impacts on some islands.” It is too soon to specificy where it will hit and what if any the impact on the continental U.S. and Bahamas will be.

The storm is headed westward with 110 mph winds, the NHC said.

Earilier Saturday, the NHC that the storm “continues to fluctuate in strength but remains a powerful hurricane.” In a subsequent advisory, the NHC said Irma was a “small hurricane,” with hurricane-force winds extending 25 miles from its center.

Irma has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, making it a Category 2 storm, the NHC said. Irma had strengthened to a Category 3 on Thursday, with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph.

The storm is now located about 1,135 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean and moving south of due west at 15 mph. It is expected to slow down and move toward the west-southwest over the next several days, the NHC said.

Forecasters said earlier Saturday that Irma was expected to “remain a powerful hurricane into early next week.” No coastal watches or warnings are in effect.

Irma formed on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Gulf Coast of Texas August 26. Thousands have been displaced by the storm because of torrential rain and flooding.

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