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Hurricane Irma Strengthens, Florida and Caribbean Brace For Impact

Experts call Irma the "most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic."
hurricane irma landfall map,

Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, is seen in this NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center image from GOES-16 satellite taken on September 5, 2017. NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

Hurricane Irma made landfall early this morning in the Caribbean on the small island of Barbuda as a Category 5 hurricane packing record setting force on a path toward the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida.

Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded north of the Caribbean and east of the Gulf of Mexico according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Official warnings referred to Irma’s “onslaught” in a statement that closed with: “May God protect us all.”

The size of the storm left hurricane and weather scientists speechless.

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane Tuesday with winds up to 185 mph. The storm is so strong it’s shown up on seismometers in the Caribbean — equipment designed to measure earthquakes.

Florida Governor Rick Scott urged Floridians to heed mandatory evacuation orders. Florida Keys officials said they’ll begin for the small island chain’s 80,000 population and U.S. Navy has ordered more than 5,000 military personnel, contractors and their families to be evacuated from Naval Air Station Key West.

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