Storm Strikes Cuba and Turns Toward Florida Keys

Storm Strikes Cuba and Turns Toward Florida Keys”

Now the area has around 3 million people.

Scott has ordered mandatory evacuations in Monroe County, the location of the popular Florida Keys, as well as much of Miami-Dade County and other low-lying and coastal counties in the state.

In one of the biggest evacuations ever ordered in the US, about 6.3 million people in Florida - more than one-quarter of the state's population - were warned to leave, and 540,000 were directed to clear out from the Georgia coast.

Irma is now barrelling towards Florida, and is expected to leave a trail of destruction in its wake should it make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on Sunday morning.

In Florida, gas shortages and gridlock plagued the evacuations, turning normally simple trips into tests of will. Parts of interstates 75 and 95 north were bumper-to-bumper, while very few cars drove on the southbound lanes. "But the storm surge is what really scares me".

What can that tell us about the future Atlantic hurricanes?

In one of the country's largest evacuations, about 5.6 million people in Florida - more than one-quarter of the state's population - were ordered to leave, and another 540,000 were ordered out on the Georgia coast.

Many residents and tourists were left reeling after Irma ravaged some of the world's most exclusive tropical playgrounds, known for their turquoise waters and lush green vegetation.

Irma, Jose and Hurricane Harvey have created an unfortunate record, according to meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. "The only flight we could get was to Tampa", she said.

For decades disaster officials and meteorologists have put the Tampa region as one of their worst-case scenarios, along with Miami, New Orleans, Houston and NY.

Irma lashed Cuba and the Bahamas on Friday after hitting the eastern Caribbean. Up to a million people have been told to flee.

Governor Rick Scott said the storm surge was likely to be between six and 12 feet (two and four metres) in some areas.

The storm is expected to remain a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Florida, the National Hurricane Center said. So the peak, peak winds may not be as high.

Jose and Irma as of Saturday morning were the only two hurricanes in the Atlantic.

The reason forecasters keep pushing Irma's projected path west lies hundreds of miles to the north.

Gradual weakening is expected after Saturday.

Some locals in Florida have said they will ride out the storm, but Nowakowski strongly advised against it.

But Bahamian forecaster Jeffrey Greene cautioned: "we're still not out of the woods as yet", adding strong wind and rains were expected to continue for some time.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.

Hurricane Irma forecast track map.

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