Irma Slams Cuba; Millions Ordered to Leave Florida

Hurricane currently a Category 4 with 155mph winds
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2017 5:40 AM CDT
Irma Slams Cuba; Millions Ordered to Leave Florida
This photo provided on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.   (Jalon Manson Shortte via AP)

(Newser) – Florida is next: Hurricane Irma continued to batter Cuba early Saturday as it powered its way toward the US. In fact, South Florida already has begun to feel the outer bands, reports the Miami Herald. As of 5am Eastern, Irma was 245 miles southeast of Miami's coast and moving at 12mph with sustained winds of 155mph. That puts Irma back in Category 4 status after it briefly regained Category 5 strength late Friday. One small bright spot: The latest forecasts suggests its landfall will be southwest of the heavily populated Miami metro area when it eventually arrives, per the AP. Still, given the breadth of the storm, the entire Florida peninsula braced for a devastating hit.

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. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Hotels as far away as Atlanta filled up with evacuees. Meanwhile, Miami International Airport said it has no scheduled flights Saturday and Sunday, reports USA Today. So far, the death toll in the Caribbean from Irma is at 20. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is a Category 4 hurricane, about 190 miles east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands. In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia made landfall late Friday north of Tecolutla, Mexico, and weakened to a tropical storm. By early Saturday morning, it was 135 miles south of Tampico, Mexico, moving sluggishly at only 2 mph. (Read more Hurricane Irma stories.)

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