Hurricane Irma Is the "Most Powerful Storm Ever Recorded in Atlantic Ocean"

Irma continues on a westward track toward the Leeward Islands at 14 mph

"Increasing upper-ocean heat content and a very favorable upper-level pattern are expected to allow Irma to remain a (potentially catastrophic) category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next several days", said Hurricane Center specialist Daniel Brown.

Mapp ordered a 36-hour curfew starting Wednesday at 6 a.m. local time. "Traffic is heavy", Thomas said.

Hurricane Irma as seen on satellite imagery on the morning of September 6, 2017.

CollierAll Collier County district schools closed Thursday and Friday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Monroe County has declared a mandatory evacuation order for all residents and all visitors.

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Other islands are in its path next, and it could reach the State of Florida by the weekend, although that's not yet definitively clear.

As well as the Leeward Islands, others in the path of the storm include the United States and British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, a small, low-lying British island territory of about 15,000 people. "People put their lives in jeopardy by staying ..."

The National Weather Service said the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 1:47 a.m.

- hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. Category 5 applies to any hurricane with sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or higher - powerful enough to cause "catastrophic damage".

Speaking to the Nassau Guardian, Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis described Irma as a "monster" and said anyone who did not evacuate was "foolish". "That's what the people of New Orleans have to be planning for". A 75-year-old man died while preparing for the storm in Puerto Rico's central mountains, police said.

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"It's gotten a little bit stronger and it's going to maintain that strength", Walsh said late Tuesday night."The storm is the size of Ohio".

After making the northwest turn, Irma is expected to track just north of the Leeward Islands where hurricane warnings are now in effect.

The federal emergency agency, FEMA, is also full of storm updates and links out to social media accounts to follow about disaster preparedness and relief.

Irma is the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

The government has issued comprehensive safety directives and residents and resorts across the island are taking all necessary precautions to secure their properties and safeguard life.

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