Hurricane Irma has grown from a tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean into a hurricane, being upgraded to a Category 3 Thursday as it continued to make its track west over warm waters.
While it is not a threat to land yet, emergency managers are keeping their eye on the hurricane, which could be bumped up to a Category 4 this weekend, AccuWeather noted. Hurricane Harvey, which dumped record amounts of rain on Texas while causing property damage all along the gulf coast, roared to shore as a Category 4 last weekend.
Category 4 hurricanes have sustained wind strength of 130-156 miles per hour.
Irma was 1,700 miles east of the Leeward Islands on Friday morning, and experts predicted it will be out to sea for another week.
The Weather Channel said the storm could hit the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, but it was still too early to tell how many of the islands could take the direct brunt of the storm. The broadcaster added that people living in the Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Island should be following Irma's track closely in the coming days.
The Weather Channel forecasters said if Hurricane Irma threatens the United States, it likely will not reach land until the second week of September.
"If Irma builds to a Category 4, and then hits the U.S. mainland, it will be the first time in more than 100 years the U.S. has been hit by two Category 4 hurricanes in the same year," Evan Myers, senior AccuWeather meteorologist, told USA Today.
Harvey, now a tropical depression, is still spilling huge amounts of rain as it dissipates, with associated flooding expected in the lower Mississippi River valley to the Ohio River valley as the storm moves north and east, USA Today reported.
Some four to eight inches of rain along with flash flooding also is expected for the Tennessee Valley and West Virginia, as water runs from higher elevations to low-lying areas, the newspaper added.
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