Hurricane Irma strengthens to Category 3 over Atlantic

NEW YORK — Hurricane Irma has rapidly intensified into a Category 3 storm on Thursday, with maximum-sustained winds of 115 mph.

The storm is over the eastern Atlantic as it travels toward the Caribbean, but its exact path is unknown, and it does not pose an immediate threat to any land in the near future.

This major hurricane, which formed earlier this week near the Cabo Verde Islands off West Africa, could fluctuate in strength but is expected to remain a powerful storm.

Irma is moving west-northwest at about 12 mph. It’ll move in that general direction into very warm waters through early Friday before shifting generally westward on Saturday and west-southwestward on Sunday, the hurricane center said.

It could potentially become a dangerous category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph by Tuesday.

The storm is forecast to remain over the tropical Atlantic through next Tuesday.  The next advisory from the National Hurricane Center will be issued at 11 p.m.