Irma is already a major hurricane and getting stronger

Map cone via National Hurricane Center

Map cone via National Hurricane Center

Irma rapidly intensified Thursday, becoming a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which classifies as a major hurricane.

At this time, no warnings or watches are in effect, but the hurricane center is suggesting the Leeward Islands monitor Irma's progress.

Hurricane Irma regained its status as a major Category 3 storm early Sunday but its impact on the Eastern United States remains uncertain.

The storm is expected to continue to strengthen as it tracks west across the central Atlantic Ocean. Irma is a relatively small hurricane, with hurricane force winds extending just 15 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extending 80 miles. "Irma is moving toward the west near 14 miles per hour and a motion just south of due west is expected for the next 48 hrs.", the advisory said.

Here is the 11pm Saturday Night forecast track from the National Hurricane Center...

Such explosive strengthening is known as "rapid intensification", defined by the NHC as having its wind speed increase at least 30 knots in 24 hours.

Forecasters still think that an area of high pressure will build in to the north of Irma and push the storm to the west-southwest for a few days.

The storm was located 1,220 miles from the Leeward Islands on Saturday and moving west at almost 15 mph, forecasters said.

"It is much too early to determine what direct impacts Irma will have on the continental United States", the center stated. Hurricane Watches have been issued by the governments of Antigua, the Netherlands and France for for the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin and Saint Barthelemy.

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