Hurricane Irma upgraded to top level of 5
Hurricane Irma has again strengthened to a category 5 storm, the highest rating on the scale, the US National Hurricane Center has said, Sputnik reported.
The hurricane, which is expected to make landfall in the US state of Florida this weekend, has maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour.
"Irma making landfall on the Camaguey archipelago of Cuba as a category 5 hurricane. Hurricane warnings extended northward along the Florida peninsula," the agency announced.
The NHC stressed some fluctuations in its intensity were likely during the next day or two, but it is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it approaches Florida.
The eye of the storm is forecast to move near the north coast of Cuba through Saturday, near the Florida Keys on Sunday morning, and then near the southwest coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon.
The hurricane will bring storm surges reaching up to 12 feet in Florida’s southwest, as well as heavy rainfalls through Tuesday night of up to 20 inches, which may cause life-threatening flash floods.
A few tornadoes are also possible from Saturday midday into Sunday across central and south Florida.
Irma is the most intense hurricane in the Atlantic over the past decade. It is considered to be even more powerful than the recent Hurricane Harvey which went ashore in Texas and caused major flooding.
Another hurricane, Katia, has meanwhile made landfall north of Tecolutla on the eastern coast of the state of Veracruz in Mexico. It remains a category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and is expected to dissipate later on Saturday.