185mph Hurricane Irma hits first Caribbean islands

To keep up with the latest on Hurricane Irma, now in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, we've compiled the best online resources. It could initiate closures at a variety of amusement parks in Orlando.

France voiced concern on Wednesday about thousands of people who are refusing to seek shelter from hurricane Irma on the French Caribbean islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy.

"Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is expected to remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple days", according to the NHC advisory. The policy only applies to vacations booked directly through Disney, and it does not apply to dining or special events.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

So far, there are no other mandatory evacuations in Florida, but officials in Miami-Dade County have advised residents in low-lying areas, including Miami Beach, to begin evacuating on Wednesday. A major hurricane has winds of 111 miles per hour (180 kph) or higher.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello, who has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, urged the economically struggling U.S. territory's 3.4 million residents to prepare for the potentially devastating storm.

The National Hurricane Centre said Irma was maintaining Category 5 strength with sustained winds near 185mph, heading west-north-west on a path towards Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend. But the National Weather Service is warning people to watch out for fake forecasts after several went viral on social media.

Irma - packing 185 mile-an-hour (297 kilometer per hour) winds and gusts of more than 200 mph as of 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT) - was bearing down on the Leeward Islands in the northeast Caribbean on a forecast path toward Florida.

As Jose picks up momentum, experts predict that the tropical storm could become a hurricane by the end of the week. Another 7,000 National Guard members will report to duty Friday when the storm could be bearing down, though it's too early to know exactly where it may hit.

The result could be life-threatening flooding and mudslides.

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