Hurricane Irma strengthens to a Category 5 storm - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Hurricane Irma strengthens to a Category 5 storm

Posted: Updated:
MIAMI -

8:35 a.m.

American Airlines has added extra flights out of two Caribbean islands to get people out of the path of Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 5 storm.

The flights were added in St. Maarten and St. Kitts and Nevis. Those are in addition to regularly scheduled flights Tuesday and Wednesday to Miami.

Both islands are part of the northern Leeward Islands and are under a hurricane warning as Irma approaches the region Tuesday.

American says it expects to make additional flight changes as it monitors the storm.

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8 a.m.

Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a Category 5 storm as it roared toward the northeast Caribbean on a path toward the U.S.

Irma's maximum sustained winds increased to 175mph (280 kph) early Tuesday. It was centered about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of Antigua and moving west at 14 mph (22 kph).

Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters). Government officials began evacuations in certain islands.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello warned that all decisions taken in the next couple of hours would make a difference between life and death.

States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of Florida.

Previous Coverage:

Hurricane Irma has strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it approaches the northeast Caribbean.

The storm's center is 490 miles (790 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands late Monday afternoon. It has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) and is moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).

Emergency officials are warning that Irma could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm draws closer.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts. A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and U.S. Virgin islands and Guadeloupe.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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