Hurricane Irma, nearing Caribbean, 'extremely dangerous' category five storm
HO (NASA/GOES Project/AFP)
Irma picked up strength and has become an "extremely dangerous" Category Five hurricane as it approached the Caribbean on Tuesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.
"Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area," the NHC said in its 1200 GMT bulletin.
The monster hurricane, the most powerful of the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, is about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of the island of Antigua packing maximum sustained winds of 175 miles (280 kilometers) per hour.
Irma is expected to make landfall along the string of French islands that includes Guadeloupe late Tuesday before heading to Haiti and Florida.
The storm was moving towards the west at 14 miles (22 kilometers) per hour, and is expected to drop between four and eight inches (10 and 20 centimeters) of rain when it hits land.
"These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," the NHC warned.
The storm is also is expected to "cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions."
Irma, which has triggered alarm and alerts from the French West Indies to Florida, comes after of Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana late last month.
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