Hurricane Irma may be the most devastating storm in U.S. history, with insured damages more than or equal to those caused by Hurrican Katrina, according to research firm Barclays, CNBC reported.
Irma intensified to become a Category 5 hurricane on Tuesday, Sept. 5, with winds topping 185 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The hurricane became the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, according to the NHC.
“Given the potential magnitude of this storm as well as the potential to impact a highly populated area, we think Irma’s insured damage in Florida could be the largest ever in the US perhaps equivalent to Hurricane Katrina,” wrote Barclays’s Jay Gelb on Tuesday.
The storm damages could result in $125 billion-$130 billion, Gelb added, citing catastrophe modelers AIR Worldwide and Karen Clark and Co. That places it in the category with historic hurricanes not seen since the Miami hurricane in 1926.
Irma is a “Cape Verde hurricane,” which are known to be especially intense. Cape Verde hurricanes form far out over the Atlantic Ocean near the Cape Verde Islands. They then travel all the way across the Atlantic, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Cape Verde storms often turn into some of the most massive and intense hurricanes, including the likes of Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Floyd, and Hurricane Ivan.
In its current state, Irma would be the biggest storm to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to Miami Herald.
Irma could reach southern Florida on Sept. 10 as a Category 4 hurricane, according to a global model developed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and mapped by Ventusky.
Preparations were underway in South Florida on Tuesday as people there brace for Hurricane Irma. Residents waited in long lines for gas and groceries as the massive storm approaches. Aerial video showed long lines of people waiting to enter a Coscto in Pembroke Pines.
Reuters contributed to this report.