(Reuters) - Hurricane Irma is likely to be downgraded to a Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall in Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.
Irma, at present a Category 5 storm packing maximum sustained winds of 180 miles (285 km) per hour, is moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, the NHC said.
It has become a little less organised over the past few hours but the threat of direct hurricane impacts in Florida over the weekend and early next week continues to increase, it said.
Hurricane watches were in effect for the northwestern Bahamas and much of Cuba.
Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet