The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Hurricane Watches to Hurricane Warnings for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Hurricane Irma is now a Category 4 Major Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140mph, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC.) The NHC expects Hurricane Irma to pick up additional size and strength and officially forecasts it to have maximum sustained winds of at least 150mph within the next 24 hours.
Various governments in the Caribbean have issued Hurricane Warnings and Watches and Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches. The government of Antigua has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, and Nevis. The National Weather Service has issued Hurricane Warnings for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Hurricane Watches are now also up for the British Virgin Islands. The government of Barbados has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Dominica. Yesterday, the the government of the Netherlands issued a Hurricane Watch for the islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten.; the government of France issued a Hurricane Watch for St. Martin and Saint Barthelemy and a Tropical Storm Watch for Guadeloupe. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. In Hurricane Warning areas, preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.