SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Irma became a Category 4 storm Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center, which said “preparations within the warning area should be rushed to completion.”
Tropical-storm force winds are expected to arrive in the hurricane warning area by late Tuesday.
Irma is expected to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands as a “dangerous major hurricane,” accompanied by life-threatening wind as well as storm surge and rainfall, according to the NHC.
Irma could also directly affect Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands as a dangerous major hurricane later this week, the NHC said. It said that it’s still too early to determine what direct impact Hurricane Irma might have on the continental United States.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, according to a tweet by CBS Miami:
Meanwhile, workers in the northeast Caribbean were clearing drains and pruning trees as authorities urged islanders to prepare for the storm.
The possibility that the storm could eventually turn its wrath on the U.S. East Coast has officials of the American Red Cross concerned.
They told CBS Raleigh, North Carolina, affiliate WNCN-TV the need for assistance in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is still high, but the Red Cross’ focus and resources might shift toward North Carolina, based on what Irma does.
“We put a hold on sending volunteers from the Mid-Atlantic states,” Red Cross Regional Executive Officer Barry Porter told WNCN-TV. “There is still a lot of other states to send volunteers from, but because of this pending threat to Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, we’ve asked those volunteers to hold, update their records, and help us here in the Carolinas if we need them.”
U.S. residents were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it turns northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas.
“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of Harvey,” Evan…