Residents urged to evacuate as Irma closes in on Florida
MCD Staff

MCD Staff

Hurricane Irma has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm, but it’s still extremely dangerous and is now on track to make a direct hit on Florida early Sunday morning.

The storm is packing sustained winds of 150 mph with gusts as high as 190 mph, and it could wreak havoc for Florida after it hits the Turks and Caicos islands today and then heads to the Bahamas.

At least 20 people in the Caribbean have been killed already.

Late Thursday, the National Hurricane Center issued the first hurricane warning for the Keys and parts of South Florida, including some of the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people. It added a storm surge warning and extended watch areas along the east and west coasts.

As people along the Atlantic Coast anxiously watched the behemoth, Irma battered the northern Caribbean, killing at least 11 people and leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.

At least 31,000 people fled the Florida Keys, which could begin seeing wind and rain from Irma as early as Friday night, Gov. Rick Scott said. He noted the size of the powerful Category 5 storm, and told residents not to become complacent.

“It is wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast. Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate,” Scott said.

Scott ordered all schools and state offices to close Friday through Monday. Florida State and the University of Florida canceled their home football games scheduled for Saturday.

Irma is likely to move up along the east coast of Florida, with a potential threat to Georgia and the Carolinas, after doing serious damage throughout islands in the Caribbean.

Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

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