At 11 pm Atlantic Standard Time on Tuesday, Irma was about 80 km from the Leeward Islands. But the storm is closing in on the record set by Hurricane Allen in 1980, which reached maximum sustained winds of 190 miles per hour.
Live 5 News Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh says Irma has strengthened slightly with its current track taking it along mostly water for the next few days.
"Storm surge and extreme winds are the biggest concern right now", Scott said.
Officials in the Florida Keys geared up to get tourists and residents out of Irma's path, and the mayor of Miami-Dade County said people should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach and most coastal areas. The Meteorological Service of Barbados has discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for Dominica.
Hurricane Irma moved through the northern Leeward Islands early Wednesday, bringing its Category 5 winds, unsafe storm surge and flooding rains directly over Barbuda.
The storm is forecast to begin moving slightly faster in a west-northwest motion during the next two days, according to the NHC.
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Irma of Category 5, the maximum on the Saffir-Simpson scale, crossed Barbuda at 2 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 295 km an hour.
Tropical Storm Jose is close to becoming a hurricane, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Irma's track at this point looks like it could impact Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Tampa, Florida with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour. David Glenn, NWS science and operations officer in the Newport office, said in a briefing September 5 that while it's too early to tell if there will be any direct impacts from Irma, there may be some indirect ones.
Hurricanes are generally considered to be risks only to coastal areas, with inland cities like Atlanta usually well out of harm's way.
Hurricane Irma slammed into islands in the northeast Caribbean with devastating force early Wednesday, damaging buildings and sending debris flying with winds estimated at 185mph.