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Hurricane Irma's exact path still a big question

Posted at 10:06 AM, Sep 01, 2017

Hurricane Irma is now a major hurricane, and it's expected to maintain or even intensify at least until it reaches the Lesser Antilles on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea.

The storm became a Category 3 on Thursday, and it could still grow to a Category 4 between now and Labor Day.

After Labor Day, forecast models have yet to come to an agreement exactly where this storm is headed.

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Most models currently show the storm making a hard right turn to the norther, keeping it in the Atlantic Ocean and away from land, meaning the only impacts on the United States would be some rough surf along the East Coast.

However, at least one or two models have Irma making landfall somewhere in the Carolinas before moving up the East Coast.

Even fewer models keep the storm moving across the Caribbean and either hitting Florida or moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Irma experienced rapid intensification this week, growing from a mere tropical wave to a major hurricane in roughly 48 hours. Fortunately, that rapid growth is expected to slow down over the long weekend.

Irma is already the second major hurricane — Category 3 or larger — of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.

In May, the National Hurricane Center forecasted a total of between two and four major hurricanes for the entire season.

September is peak season for hurricane development and most major hurricanes form in this month.

The National Hurricane Center is already watching another tropical wave coming off the coast of Africa, and we'll find out next week if that sees the same rapid growth Irma has this week.