- The strength: Irma is back up to a Category 5 storm, with sustained winds at 160 mph.
- The path: Irma made landfall in Cuba Friday evening. Southern Florida is bracing for a direct hit early Sunday. The storm will drift over the entire state.
Live coverage of Hurricane Irma from WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida. 24/7 coverage of the impacts of the storm on Florida.
Latest estimates of when Irma’s winds could arrive
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) 9 September 2017
Hurricane Irma strengthens, hits Cuba on its way to Florida
Hurricane Irma hit northern Cuba during its long, destructive march toward Florida, where it’s expected to hammer the state with whistling winds, heavy rain and surging waves.
Florida authorities went door-to-door warning residents of the massive hurricane, sending crowds jamming highways as they fled north.
The powerful Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph when it made landfall on Cuba’s Camaguey Archipelago, the National Hurricane Center said late Friday.
Millions urged to evacuate
Irma edged closer to South Florida after killing 24 people in the Caribbean this week, and strengthened to a Category 5 storm in Cuba. Hours earlier Friday, it was a Category 4.
Irma is expected to be near the Florida Keys and South Florida by early Sunday, and many residents there have moved inland. About 5.6 million people in the state have been ordered to evacuate, Gov. Rick Scott said.
Florida officials sent dire warnings imploring residents on the path of the storm to evacuate.
“If you have been ordered to evacuate, leave now. Not tonight, not in an hour, now,” Scott said Friday night. Staying in homes could subject residents to storm surge as high as 12 feet, the governor added.
The National Weather Service also urged residents to evacuate .
“This is as real as it gets, nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe … you still have time to evacuate,” it tweeted.
Here are the latest developments
— Irma’s center was about 275 miles southeast of Miami on Saturday morning.
— It appears Miami will avoid a direct hit but will still get pounded by strong winds, storm surge and heavy rains.
— Irma’s center will move near the north coast of Cuba on Saturday, near the Florida Keys on Sunday morning, and near the southwest coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
— Before Irma hit Cuba, it had slammed the Turks and Caicos, and southeastern Bahamas.
— NWS Key West (@NWSKeyWest) 9 September 2017
Virginia Governor declares state of emergency
Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to help Virginia get ahead of any damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The declaration also allows Virginia to provide assistance to other states who will be impacted by the storm.
Virginia may face possible flooding, high winds and storm surge as a result of Hurricane Irma.
“It is unfortunate that just as our nation has begun the process to repair the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Harvey, that we are faced with another extreme storm,” said Governor McAuliffe. “However, if there is one lesson we can take from the tragic events that occurred in Texas, it is that we must redouble our preparation efforts. The order I issued today is intended to both protect our commonwealth and to make sure we have every option at our disposal to help our neighboring states when Irma makes landfall.”
A state of emergency allows the commonwealth to mobilize resources, including the Virginia National Guard, and pre-position people and equipment to assist in storm response and recovery efforts. All Virginians must prepare in advance for the potential impacts of this historic hurricane.
23 thousand people are in shelters in Miami-Dade County
From CNN’s Janet DeGiacomo
Mayor Carlos Gimenez said 23 thousand people are currently in shelters in the county ahead of Hurricane Irma. He said the county has the capacity to house 100,000 in shelters during this emergency.
Miami-Dade has 43 shelters operating, seven are at capacity or closed, the mayor said tonight at a news conference.
Irma strengthens back to Category 5, makes landfall in Cuba
Hurricane Irma has strengthened this evening and sustained winds are now 160 mph, making it a Category 5 storm once again.
The storm is also making landfall on the Camaguey Archipelago of Cuba.
The latest forecast has Irma again shifting slightly westward, but because of the Hurricane’s angle of approach to the west coast of Florida, it is difficult to know exactly where the storm will land.