Irma strengthens to become a Cat. 2 hurricane

Another major hurricane is already brewing in the Atlantic

In its 11 a.m. advisory, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted that the centre of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 16.9 North, longitude 33.8 West - some 2975 km east of the Leeward Islands.

NHC officials expect Hurricane Irma to continue with its current motion through Friday with a slight shift westward into Saturday.

Irma formed Wednesday as a tropical storm just west of the Cabo Verde islands, and reached hurricane strength Thursday morning.

Its maximum sustained winds have increased to 100 miles per hour.

For now, Irma presents no immediate threat to any land areas, but that is increasingly likely to change by next week.

The current forecast track brings the storm within a few hundred miles of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean by next Tuesday.

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It is too soon to know whether Irma will pose a threat to the US mainland.

The storm is only going to get stronger, too, as wind and water conditions in the Atlantic are ripe for further tropical development - and the storm is already very well-organized.

Kottlowski said lots of atmospheric factors will come into play during the next week to determine the path of Hurricane Irma.

This is the first time the name Irma has been used for an Atlantic tropical storm or hurricane.

After that the forecast track is anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to staying out in the Atlantic. Irma replaced the name Irene after it was retired for the damage it caused in the Bahamas and the USA during the 2011 hurricane season.

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