Hurricanes are powerful storms that form over the ocean. A hurricane’s strength is rated from 1 to 5 based on the speed of its winds. When it first made landfall, Hurricane Irma was a category 5 storm—the strongest kind. In fact, Irma is one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, with winds of 185 miles per hour. Most hurricanes’ winds die down after a short amount of time, but Irma has kept its 185-mile-per-hour winds for more than 24 hours—a record length of time.
The storm made landfall on Barbuda, a small island with about 1,800 people, early Wednesday morning. According to Barbuda’s prime minister, 95 percent of the island’s buildings were damaged. The storm continued to move west, past Puerto Rico, an island territory of the U.S. The heavy rains caused flooding there, and more than 1 million people lost power. At least seven people have died in the storm.
It’s difficult to predict the exact path of a hurricane. But scientists say Irma could hit Florida this weekend and then move toward Georgia and South Carolina.