The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has upgraded Hurricane Irma to Category 5, with maximum sustained winds up to 175mph, as the massive deadly storm bears down on the Caribbean.

Hurricane watches have been moved up to hurricane warnings for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The current NHC storm track puts Irma near the Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Barbuda today, and she’s on track to hit Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic before passing over Cuba and the Bahamas, with the probability of approaching Florida early Sunday.

NHC forecasters said there is an “increasing chance” that Florida and the Florida Keys will see “some impacts” from Irma later this week. But it’s still too early to tell.

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic government has issued a Hurricane Watch from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti and a Tropical Storm Watch from the south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona.

Hurricane warnings are also in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Maarten, the British and US Virgin Islands, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba and the southeastern and central areas of the Bahamas.According to the Bermuda Weather Service, Irma’s closest point of approach to Bermuda within the next three days is forecast to be 761 nautical miles to the south of the island by 11am on Thursday. They noted however, that this system may move closer to Bermuda after this time period.

  • Graphic Courtesy of the National Weather Service