Irma continues on a potentially catastrophic march west through the Caribbean after making landfall early this morning on the island of Barbuda.
There's no word yet on the extent of the damage caused there by the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Irma is still a Category 5 storm with maximum winds around 185 miles per hour.
Irma now heads toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before potentially approaching Florida by the weekend.
At 500 AM AST (0900 UTC), the center of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 17.9 North, longitude 62.6 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the northern Leeward Islands this morning, move near or over portions of the northern Virgin Islands later today, and pass near or just north of Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 185 mph (295 km/h) with higher gusts. Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km). St. Martin recently reported a wind gust of 61 mph (98 km/h).
The estimated minimum central pressure is 914 mb (26.99 inches).