Irma Weakens To Category 4 Hurricane As It Heads For Florida

Irma Weakens To Category 4 Hurricane As It Heads For Florida

If you are in an evacuation zone, you need to go now. "This is a catastrophic storm like our state has never seen", Scott told reporters, adding that the storm's effects would be felt from coast to coast in the state.

Irma could be bigger and more destructive than prior major storms, with its surge reaching inland and disrupting house wiring and causing fires, Leatherman said.

Officials in Florida have ordered a total of 6.3 million people, or about a third of the state's population, to evacuate, creating massive traffic jams on highways and overcrowding shelters.

Hurricane Katia made landfall late Friday on Mexico's Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm and was weakening over eastern Mexico on Saturday morning.

Forecasters warned of storm surge as high as 15 feet. It was predicted to slam southern Florida on Sunday. In the meantime, the NHC extended its hurricane warning up the East Coast to Sebastian Inlet, and up the West Coast to the Suwannee River.

Near the Bay of Nettle, on the island of Saint Martin, during and after the passage of Hurricane Irma.

At the only fully-operational airport, located on the French side, exhausted women including one with a newborn baby, children and the elderly waited for flights out to nearby Guadeloupe or even mainland France. It left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean and as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico's bathtub-warm water of almost 90 degrees, it was expected to regain strength. "People are walking around with weapons", De Vin said, while insisting that Dutch troops were "getting more of a grip on the situation".

Esteban Reyes, 65, was pushing his bicycle taxi laden with a mattress, iron and DVD player.

"We are less than 24 hours away from the lower half of our state experiencing Category 4 winds", the governor said.

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MacDill Air Force Base, the military installation home to US Central Command, issued mandatory evacuation orders with the eye of the storm expected to pass over its home city of Tampa early Monday.

The low-lying Florida Keys will be struck first when Irma arrives on Sunday and authorities are reportedly considering withdrawing emergency teams from the islands.

INSURANCE The industry is in good financial shape because insurers haven't had to pay out for mammoth losses like back-to-back hurricanes in over a decade, analysts say. Anybody from Alabama to North Carolina should be watching this storm very closely, Long said.

A hurricane warning for the Commonwealth island of Barbuda and the British territory of Anguilla has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning, while Antigua and the British Virgin Islands are on tropical storm watch.

A Reuters witness described the roof and walls of a solidly built house shaking hard as the storm rocked the island of Providenciales.

The hurricane has already claimed at least 20 lives, paving a path of destruction across the British Virgin Islands and battered the north coast of Cuba before arriving in the Sunshine State late on Saturday.

Turkey Point was expected to close on Friday evening and St. Lucie is to shut about 12 hours later, depending on the storm's path.

France said it was deploying hundreds more police and other emergency personnel to the islands as it ramped up its response to the devastation in its overseas territories. Family members have resorted to calling a St. Croix-based radio station that broadcasts in both the USA and British Virgin Islands. In all, more than 400 people died in Florida.


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