Irma moving toward southeastern Bahamas

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The eye of Hurricane Irma is moving west-northwest off the Dominican Republic's northern coast as an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm.

***Track Hurricane Irma's Path Here***

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma has top sustained winds near 175 mph (280 kph) and is expected to continue moving between Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos in the afternoon hours, on a course taking it to the southeastern Bahamas Thursday evening.

As of 2 p.m. EDT, Irma's crisply defined eye was about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north-northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, moving at about 16 mph (25 kph) to the west-northwest.

 

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose has rapidly strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane with top sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph). Jose is following Irma's path, moving west-northwest at 18 mph (30 kph) over open ocean, about 660 miles (1,060 kilometers) east of the Lesser Antilles.

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia was virtually stationary Thursday afternoon, some 215 miles (345 kilometers) east of Tampico, Mexico. Forecasters say that Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), should remain stationary through late Thursday, then approach the Mexican coast late Friday or early Saturday.

A second Dutch navy ship has arrived at the shattered island of St. Maarten and is "ready to deliver aid to the population in need."

The Dutch navy just tweeted that the Pelikaan ship has moored at the island's capital of Philipsburg to unload vital supplies. Another navy vessel, the Zeeland, already is in the area and has been using an onboard helicopter to assess damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma.

Two military aircraft are being loaded in the Netherlands before flying to the island of Curacao, from where they will fly onward to St. Maarten to deliver five days of food and water for the 40,000 population. The aircraft also are bringing 100 more troops to deliver aid, repair infrastructure and restore order.

Evacuation orders are multiplying across Florida as local officials try to get the most vulnerable populations to move to safety ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Miami Dade has now made evacuations mandatory for all of its coastal areas, barrier islands and mobile homes. Monroe County's mandatory order stands for the entire Florida Keys.

Broward County's order remains voluntary for mobile homes and low-lying areas. Collier County issued a voluntary evacuation order for Marco Island.

County authorities across South Florida are making school buses available for people with special needs to get out.

Additional evacuations are expected throughout the state.

**More on Hurricane Irma here**