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BREAKING: Hurricane Irma Upgraded to Category 4 Storm, Florida at Risk

Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a Category 4 storm and Florida is at risk.

This story is developing.

From USAToday

While it’s still too early to predict an exact track for Hurricane Irma, forecasters have a message for residents of the East and Gulf coasts: Start preparing now.

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Hurricane warnings were issued Monday for portions of the Leeward Islands, while a hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Irma is currently a Category 4 storm — Harvey level, according to national weather officials.

“It could go through quickly or slowly,” AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel says. “We’re not sure.”

Still, he suggests people in the potential line of the storm take action. “Have emergency supplies ready,” he says.

The Weather Channel has the storm hitting Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, Cuba and the Bahamas late week. It could potentially hit Florida as well by the weekend, Samuhel says, although it’s too far out to map an exact path.

Irma could bring “deteriorating and perhaps devastating conditions “across the Leeward Islands and is showing the classic characteristics of a hurricane — vertical wind shear, deep moist unstable air and warm water, AccuWeather warned Monday.

Irma is currently moving at a speed of about 14 mph, according to the Weather Channel.

AccuWeather says to expect widespread power outages and damage to trees and structures in areas where the eye of the storm passes directly over or makes its closest approach.

On the island of Puerto Rico, Irma could deliver flooding rain and damaging winds as well as potential mudslides, AccuWeather says. About 4 to 8 inches of rain is expected on the islands.

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