Hurricane Irma is now a very dangerous and powerful Category 4 hurricane.

It was upgraded this afternoon.

It’s now bearing down on the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean amid fears that it could barrel towards the United States next.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for nearly one dozen Caribbean islands as Irma brings dangerous winds, storm surge and torrential rain across the Atlantic.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Martin.

Hurricane Watches are in effect for the British and US Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, and Puerto Rico.

While a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect in Dominica.

The forecast track of Hurricane Irma has shifted south, potentially bringing it closer to Jamaica’s north coast in the coming days.

Irma is expected to move close to the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico into midweek, and then near Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba and the Bahamas late week into the weekend.

It’s a growing threat to the continental United States, with impacts possibly beginning in Florida later this week.

More in this report from the Weather Channel.

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