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By the numbers: What makes Hurricane Irma so dangerous?

Storm is most powerful on record in Atlantic

In this image, NOAA's GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean -- a Category 5 storm with winds as high as 180 mph -- at about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday (NASA/NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images).
In this image, NOAA's GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it makes its way across the Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean -- a Category 5 storm with winds as high as 180 mph -- at about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday (NASA/NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images). (Getty Images)

(GMG) – Hurricane Irma is a powerful Category 5 storm with winds of 180 mph, and it appears increasingly likely that the hurricane will rip into heavily populated South Florida early Sunday.

Gov. Rick Scott has declared an emergency and mandatory evacuation orders are in place for parts of the Miami metro area and the Florida Keys. Parts of South Florida were placed under a hurricane watch Thursday. Forecasters said Irma could rake the entire Atlantic coast of Florida and rage on into Georgia and South Carolina, the Associated Press reported.

So, what makes the storm so strong?


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