Hurricane Irma now a Category 2 storm, and is expected to strengthen

Irma is now a Category 2 hurricane and the National Weather Service says the storm is “rapidly intensifying” as it churns in the Atlantic west of the Cabo Verde Islands.

The forecast is for Irma to become a major hurricane by Thursday night and an “extremely dangerous hurricane” for the next several days.

At 10 a.m., Irma had maximum winds of 100 mph and was moving in west northwest at 10 mph.

The storm is moving more slowly than models predicted, allowing for rapid strengthening. The National Hurricane Center forecast predicts a Category 4 storm by next week.

Kate Magandy: 228-896-2344, @kmagandy