Hurricane Irma: Florida declares state of emergency as experts predict stronger storm than Harvey will lash the US seaboard

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Florida is regularly hit by Atlantic storms during hurricane season (Source: Getty)

The chances of Hurricane Irma hitting the US have jumped as the storm strengthens, with experts predicting it may make landfall in Florida later this week.

Overnight, Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency across the state's 67 counties. He said he had spoken to Donald Trump, who had promised his full support.

Conditions are "ideal" for the storm to strengthen beyond that of Hurricane Harvey to a Category 5 hurricane, according to experts from JLT Re.

There is now a 75-80 per cent chance it will hit the US, rising from a 55-60 per cent chance predicted yesterday.

Irma is making its way north west and may skim the northern Carribean islands on Friday. Forecasters then see the weather system heading north around Saturday, making a beeline for the Florida coastline.

JLT Re said: "The largest implication of the forecast shift since yesterday is an increased risk of US landfall, increasingly likely as a major landfalling hurricane."

Read more: Another massive hurricane is winging its way towards the US

Where will the hurricane go?


(Source: UCAR)

The reinsurer said consensus predictions indicate the storm may reach Florida on Sunday.

"If Irma does not make landfall, it is equally likely Irma continues to track west into the Gulf of Mexico as it is to recurve in the Atlantic. Both of these outcomes seem far less likely today in contrast to a US landfall."

Fuelled by water from the Atlantic, winds are already hitting 120mph.

Read more: Trump asks Congress for $7.8bn Storm Harvey recovery down-payment