Hurricane Irma Packing 115 MPH Winds and Gaining Strength in Atlantic

Hurricane Irma
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National Weather  Service

Hurricane Irma Packing 115 MPH Winds: While Texas is still struggling to recover from Harvey, more trouble was brewing Thursday out in the Atlantic — and her name is Irma.

Packing 115-mph winds and strengthening rapidly, Irma was declared a Category 3 hurricane just before 5 p.m. and was heading west at 12 mph and picking up speed, the National Hurricane Center reported. At the time, it was about 3,000 miles southeast of Miami.

Tropical Storm Irma strengthened into a category 2 hurricane on Aug. 31 in the Atlantic. NOAA

“Irma is forecast to become a major hurricane by tonight and is expected to be an extremely dangerous hurricane for the next several days,” the Hurricane Center warned in a bulletin.

Dennis Feltgen, a NHC spokesman and meteorologist, told NBC News the “rapid intensification” of Irma’s strength caught everybody’s attention at their headquarters in Miami.

“The good news is we have lots of time to watch this develop,” Feltgen said. “It’s at least five or six days away from touching any land.”

And by land, Feltgen said he means the easternmost island in the Caribbean Sea.

Does Irma, the fourth hurricane of the season, pose a new threat to the U.S.?

“We don’t have an answer for that yet,” Feltgen said. “It’s way too soon to say with any certainty how this will affect the United States.”

The last major storm named Irma appeared in the Atlantic on Oct. 2, 1978 and never made it to the U.S. coast.

Tropical Storm Irma came within 500 miles of the Azores before petering out on Oct. 5, according to the National Weather Service.

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