Hot on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma has steadily gained strength in the Atlantic and forecasters predict the massive storm will hit Florida by the end of this week.

Harvey set a continental record when it dropped more than 52 inches of rain on the Houston area. The Category 4 storm caused widespread flooding throughout Southeast Texas, left thousands homeless and killed at least 70 people.

Irma, however, is the largest Atlantic storm to develop in the last decade.

Not only is the hurricane currently listed as a Category 5 — the most destructive of all hurricane classes — but the storm also has sustained winds of 185 miles per hour and has since grown wider than the state of Texas. Irma has pounded the Caribbean islands, caused extensive damage and has already proven deadly. The storm is predicted to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 4 hurricane and its current projected path has put major cities such as Miami on alert and has prompted the evacuation of some 250,000 resident in Palm Beach County. Irma is likely to be a storm for the record books.

Some say records are meant to be broken, and it is possible that we may well see many more hurricanes break records in the years to come.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said while it is still too early to definitively tell whether human activities, particularly carbon emissions have had a detectable impact on the severity of Atlantic hurricanes, such pollution and climactic warming will likely lead to more intense hurricanes by the end of the century. The agency predicts the average intensity of hurricanes will increase by 2-11 percent and the rainfall totals of cyclones will increase by 10-15 percent.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a climate scientist. But with two record breaking hurricanes in recent weeks and experts predicting even stronger storms in the not-so-distant-future, I’m hopeful that the scientific community, coastal cities and the public will take steps to prepare for what is likely ahead of us.

Happy birthday Friday to Charles Niblet, Shannon Walker, Dassie Magers and Ethan Sentell, all of Sherman; and Sandra Donoho of Bells.

Happy anniversary Friday to Clifford and Joy S. Jones of Sherman, 44 years.