Hurricane Irma has been upgraded to a powerful category four storm as warnings have been issued for several Caribbean islands. The hurricane had sustained winds of up to 220km/h and was likely to strengthen in the next 48 hours. Irma was projected to hit the Leeward Islands, causing storm surges, life-threatening winds and torrential rain. The US state of Florida has declared a state of emergency. It comes as residents in Texas and Louisiana are reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which struck as a category four storm, causing heavy rain and destroying thousands of homes. However the NHC warned that it was too early to forecast Irma’s exact path or effects on the continental US.