Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever

Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever
Hurricane Irma (Image: NASA)

[Ed. – When Vox is willing to take time away from its constant anti-Trump drumbeat to report on a storm, you know this has got to be serious.]

Hurricane Irma is already one for the record books.

As a Category 5 with sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, Irma now ranks among the most powerful hurricanes (as measured by wind speed) ever recorded. Irma sustained 185 mph winds for more than 24 hours, a record length of time for a hurricane in the Atlantic.Irma has been a Category 5 storm for more than two days — which is also nearly a record.

The threat of an impact in Florida over the weekend “continues to increase,” the hurricane center reported Thursday. The forecast will grow more certain in the next few days. And local officials are already preparing for the worst.

On Wednesday, the fierce storm hit the leeward (i.e. northeastern) Caribbean islands, moving through Barbuda and St. Martin. The New York Times reports widespread damage to property, homes, and infrastructure on these and other islands. Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda told reporters Barbuda “is totally destroyed — 90 percent at least.” Reports indicate at least 10 have died in the Caribbean.

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