Hurricane Irma did something the models did not predict: Strengthen to category 5, with winds at 185 miles per hour. It is still on track to clobber Puerto Rico and Florida.

Vox reports Hurricane Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported the storm had become a Category 5 with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. That means Irma now ranks among the most powerful hurricanes (as measured by windspeed) ever recorded.

According to the NWS, Irma is the strongest storm ever in the Atlantic (not counting those that reached the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico). And it’s not far off from the all-time record hurricane wind speed of 190 mph.

Expected Arrivals

Hurricane Scale

Irma Tracker

The above image from Cyclocane.

The chance of direct impacts from Irma later this week and this weekend is increasing in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula. However, it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of the impacts. Elsewhere, it is too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental United States. Everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock