Irma currently moving across Atlantic as a Category 3 hurricane

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Although there is no immediate effect to land, Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane for “many days” as it moves over the tropical Atlantic.

As of Sunday morning, Hurricane Irma remains a strong Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and it is tracking to the west southwest at 15 mph. Irma will travel in a general westward motion through the central tropical Atlantic into early next week. Irma will become a major hurricane again as it approaches the Lesser Antilles during Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Recent computer models are suggesting Irma could pass very close to the Leeward Islands during Wednesday. However, tropical-storm-force winds and very rough surf could start to show up over these islands during Tuesday.

There is some chance that Irma could impact the Bahamas or the southeastern and eastern coasts of the U.S. as early as later next week or next weekend, respectively. All residents and interests in the Lesser Antilles, especially the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. need to closely monitor the progression of this very dangerous hurricane.

Most of the attention surrounding Irma is focused on where the storm could hit.

Meteorologist Ashley Baylor wrote Friday in her weather blog that 90 percent of hurricanes that form in Irma’s location do not make landfall in the United States. These storms typically turn northward and stay away from land.

However, the Bermuda High is blocking Irma from going up and out to sea. This could cause the storm to track somewhere between Bermuda and the Eastern Seaboard.

Fluctuations in strength — both up and down — are possible, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through the weekend.

The hurricane center said Thursday Irma is forecast to strengthen to a Category 4 storm east of the Leeward Islands next week.

Irma is the ninth named storm of the 2017 season, and the fourth to form during the month of August. This also comes as now-Tropical Depression Harvey made a third landfall on the Gulf Coast.

Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to the Houston area earlier this week.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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