A 2010 satellite image of Hurricane Igor, a Category 4 storm that eventually battered Newfoundland. Image via Getty.

The hashtag #Irma has started floating around amidst reports that Hurricane Irma, the season’s second big storm, is gaining strength in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. It became a Category 3 hurricane on Thursday afternoon, and is expected to become a Category 4. Its path isn’t clear yet, but with thousands of Texans recently turned into refugees, it’s reasonable that the prospect of a second major hurricane while much of Houston and the surrounding area remains underwater would have people on edge.

Some context, via CNN:

“Irma has become an impressive hurricane,” the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday, noting the rapid intensification, and saying “this is a remarkable 50 knot [58 mph] increase from yesterday at this time.”


Irma is a classic “Cape Verde hurricane,” a type of hurricane that forms in the far eastern Atlantic, near the Cape Verde Islands (now known as the Cabo Verde Islands) and tracks all the way across the Atlantic. Cape Verde storms frequently are some of the largest and most intense hurricanes. Examples are Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Floyd, and Hurricane Ivan.


Earlier this month, NOAA forecasters said that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, could be the busiest since 2010, an “exceptional” season that saw 12 hurricanes and a total of 19 tropical storms overall.

At this point, though, it’s important to note that forecasts for Irma drastically differ—Irma could take aim at the Caribbean and the Eastern seaboard of the US, or it could head back out to sea. So don’t freak out just yet.