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NOAA via AP

Hurricane Irma is now the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, per the AP. As of this afternoon, it had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph. At its peak, Harvey had winds of around 130 mph.

  • President Trump has approved disaster declarations for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which are at risk of being hit head on.
  • Irma is approaching Barbuda and several small islands. An official statement from the government of Barbuda ended with, "May God protect us all."
  • Per AP: "If it stays on the forecast track and reaches the Florida Straits, the water there is warm enough that the already 'intense' storm could become much worse with wind speeds potentially reaching 225 mph, warned Kerry Emanuel, an MIT meteorology professor." That could be catastrophic for the Florida Keys.
  • Another tropical storm, Jose, formed today in the Atlantic.

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

Progressives pressure Schumer to end filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.