HURRICANE IRMA IS BATTERING FLORIDA
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm on record, is about to make landfall in Florida, with heavy rain and strong winds already battering Key West.
The hurricane’s northern eyewall is about to reach the lower keys and already, more than 400,000 people have been left without power.
Irma had been downgraded to a Category 3 but has now re-strengthened and will hit Florida as a Category 4 – it is still extremely dangerous, with sustained winds of around 130 mph. The hurricane is expected to travel up the west coast of the State.
Most of Florida’s airports have been closed and Florida Governor Rick Scott has urged more than 6 million people to evacuate. “If you’re in an evacuation zone, you’ve got to get out; you can’t wait,” he said, before making a plea nurses help out at temporary shelters.
The National Hurricane Center said: “At 8 am EDT, the center of Hurricane Irma was located about 20 miles east-southeast of Key West, moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h), and an increase in forwarding speed is expected later today, with that motion continuing through Monday.
“On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should move over the Lower Florida Keys shortly, and then move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight. Irma should then move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph.”
Earlier this week, Irma leveled the islands of Barbuda and St Martin in the Caribbean on its way to Florida before causing destruction in Cuba. 23 people have been confirmed dead so far.
We’ll keep you up to date with the latest.
Cover shot: Irma approaches Florida from NOAA
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