UPDATE (September 8, 4:20 pm)—For more on this developing storm event, including how it compares to Hurricane Harvey, we’ve posted a round-up of expert and scientist perspectives: UCS Experts’ View of Risk and Preparedness as the Impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Mount.
UPDATE (September 7, 11:50 am)—Hurricane Irma currently remains a category 5 hurricane, feeding off abnormally warm waters along its path across the northeast Caribbean. The hurricane’s strength is expected to continue and it is forecast to remain a category 4 or 5 storm over the next several days (the National Hurricane Center is maintaining Irma as a category 5 until Friday).
Hurricane Irma’s 180-plus mph winds held for over 24 hours (currently nearly two days), setting a record for an Atlantic hurricane and leaving casualties and destruction on the French island territories, U.S and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Early on September 7, Irma’s center was about 95 miles north of the Dominican Republic, moving at about 17 mph and expected to go north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday, Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas by Thursday night, and then Cuba on Friday night/Saturday. After that, recent tracks show it heading towards Florida and the Eastern US coast; those tracks will keep being updated.
In a world that is increasingly defined by superlatives, let’s start with this just-released statement from the National Hurricane Center: Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in their records, and a potentially catastrophic one, tied for second place as the strongest ever in the Atlantic. And it is following on the footsteps of Hurricane Harvey, which gathered strength very fast and dumped record amounts of rain on Texas and Louisiana.