Hurricane Irma pounded its way toward Florida and it’s arrival is as grim as the devastation in its ware. It is expected to reach wind speeds powerful enough to snap trees and power poles and tear the roofs off buildings. Governor Rick Scott said the lower half of Florida could face life threatening storm surge as early as Saturday morning.
It’s also expected that the water would reach levels of up to 15 feet. “Fifteen feet is devastating and will cover your house,” the governor warns. “Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down. The storm surge will rush in and it could kill you.”
“THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS,” the National Weather Service said. “NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE.” The National Hurricane Center warned of “life-threatening surge and wind.” You can check out maps tracking the storm.
Its outer bands were hitting the Florida Keys on Saturday morning. The National Hurricane Center warned of “life-threatening surge and wind.”
In Florida, officials estimated that 5.6 million residents had been ordered to evacuate. They repeatedly urged Floridians not to underestimate the power of Irma. Governor Scott has said it would be “way bigger than Andrew,” referring to the 1992 storm that was the most destructive hurricane to hit the state.
“If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now,” he said at a news conference Friday evening. “Not tonight, not in an hour, now.”
Camagüey Archipelago of Cuba experienced Irma when it reached Category 5 with 160-mile-per-hour winds. The storm had already caused flooding in Cuba’s northeast on Friday as it continued to move along the nation’s northern coastline.
More than 20 people were confirmed to have died, Caribbean residents in Barbuda and St. Martin, islands had suffered excessive damage from Irma, wearily prepared for Hurricane Jose, the Category 4 storm that could hit those islands within the next two days.
Irma is among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had been a Category 5 storm, but at 5 a.m. Eastern the center downgraded it based on the lower intensity of sustained winds.
In addition to the evacuation order in Miami, one of the country’s largest evacuations, 540,000 people were told to leave the Georgia coast. Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina have declared states of emergency.