Hurricane Irma Roars to Category 3; Forecast to Reach 'Extremely Dangerous' Cat-4 Strength

The forecasts of a busy Atlantic hurricane season are proving accurate.

As Harvey weakened to a depression, a new hurricane, Irma, fired up in the central Atlantic Ocean, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.

As of 5 p.m. ET, Irma was rated a Category 3 "major" hurricane with 115-mph winds, and is forecast to roar into an "extremely dangerous" hurricane over the next several days, with winds of 140 mph. (A "major" hurricane is one of Category 3 strength or above.)

Irma was located about 1,780 miles east of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean and was moving to the west-northwest at 12 mph.

It poses no immediate threat to land and its eventual track remains highly uncertain as is typical for storms this far out to sea.

Forecasters say Irma will take about a week to trek west across the Atlantic Ocean. Possibilities range from a landfall on the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean to the Carolinas and Bermuda — and everything in between.

Meanwhile, closer to home, the hurricane center is also watching a separate area of disturbed weather in the western Gulf of Mexico, one that could spin up into a tropical depression or storm in the next five days.

"Development, if any, of this system is expected to be slow to occur as the low moves slowly northward," the hurricane center said. "If this system does develop, it could bring additional rainfall to portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts."

Follow South Carolina's weather man and hurricane expert Jim Gandy and the News 19 weather team on air, online and on social for updates on Irma and what it may mean for South Carolina.

 

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