In the 1998 season, four hurricanes were in the Atlantic at the same time, including Hurricane Georges, a Category 4 storm that killed more than 600 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and caused $2.8 billion in damage in the USA, the Weather Channel reported. Fourteen hospitals were using generators after losing power, and trees and light poles were strewn across roads. It was also on a track that would put it near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas by Thursday evening.
Irma "will bring life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards" to Puerto Rico on Wednesday and to the northern coast of Hispaniola, which includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti, on Thursday, the Hurricane Center warned. Tropical storm Jose has just been upgraded to a hurricane.
In Atlantic coast counties, such as Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, which are home to more than 6 million people, steady streams of traffic headed north and, hopefully, away from likely devastation as petrol stations ran dry and shop shelves were stripped of stock. "If we anticipate there will be direct impacts on either facility we'll shut down the units", Florida Power & Light spokesperson Peter Robbins said.
With Irma's potentially catastrophic wind and rain set to crash through the low-lying Florida Keys this weekend, many storm-hardened residents don't seem willing to ride this one out.
US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico.
He has ordered FEMA to begin relief efforts even while it is still helping southeastern Texas clean up from last month's Category 4 Hurricane Harvey.
Meanwhile, the hurricane warning for the USA and British Virgin Islands has ended.
Hurricane Jose in the open Atlantic, some 1,000 miles (1,610 km) east of the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles islands, could become a Category 3 and eventually threaten the USA mainland. "Very concerned for our friends and everyone on the neighbouring islands and people in its path", Sam wrote on Instagram and Twitter, along with a photo of Irma.