Hurricane Irma could hit US by this weekend after Harvey devastation

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Just over a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated the east coast of the United States, a powerful new hurricane is strengthening and could hit the same coast by the weekend.

The news comes after at least 50 people were killed in Hurricane Harvey and a further 30,000 left needing shelter.

Hurricane Irma has regained status as a Category 3 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, with some strengthening expected over the coming days as it tracks west across the Atlantic.

The Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas are at high risk over the next five days and have been warned they should prepare for hurricane conditions.

It is then unclear what path the storm will then take, with forecasters projecting in some models that Irma will curve back out to sea.

A significant percentage have Irma striking the US east coast by Saturday or Sunday. It could affect a large area between Florida to New England.

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Irma pictured in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean (REUTERS)

The centre of Irma is still about 900 miles east of the Leeward Islands, 2,150 miles east-southeast of Miami and 2,150 miles southeast of Wilmington, NC, the Washington Post reported.

Irma is expected to pass over or near the Leeward Islands on Wednesday, then to be near the eastern Bahamas by Friday, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Hurricane Harvey paralysed most of Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, with rescuers launching into a race against time to help thousands of Texas residents.

It was the fiercest hurricane to hit the US in 13 years, generating an amount of rain that would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years.

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