Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction through the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands. It continues fluctuating in wind speed but the danger this storm presents has never changed.
As Irma made landfall on Cuba Friday night it strengthened back into a Category 5 storm, but within hours went back to being Category 4. While the decrease in wind speed to 150 mph is good news, the storm remains disastrously strong as it moves closer to South Florida at 13 mph.
Irma has shifted slightly to the west, putting the entire western coast of Florida at extreme risk. Naples and Fort Myers are expected to sustain major damage.
Tampa is also in Irma’s track, and expectations are that it will have weakened to Category 3 status by the time it hits. Because of Irma’s size, however, Tampa Bay is already under a hurricane warning, and Irma is not expected to make actual landfall around the Florida Keys until Sunday morning. It will then move along and batter the west coast of the state on Sunday.
South Florida is already experiencing power outages, according to the Florida Power & Light Company. As of 3 a.m. Saturday, in Miami-Dade County there were 9,613 outages affecting 1,124,252 customers. In Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, there were 456 outages affecting 939,339 customers.
In what is probably the largest evacuation in U.S. history, over 5 million people have been moved out of South Florida. Governor Rick Scott has warned of an “unbelieveable” storm surge as high as 12 feet.