Irma Veers West: Expected to Make Landfall in Florida Early Sunday Morning

Hurricane Irma is veering west and is expected to devastate Florida’s Gulf Coast. As it devastates Cuba, Irma has experienced some weakening over the island nation, but is expected to restrengthen as it moves towards Florida.

The hurricane center is expected to make landfall on southwestern Florida Sunday.

Irma’s center is expected to hit the Florida Keys and Gulf Coast cities like Fort Myers and Tampa. Regardless of the direct path of the eye, life-threatening hazardous winds and storm surges are expected in much of the state.

Storm surge flooding will likely be the highest along Florida’s southwest coast.

Around 1.5 million people in Florida and Georgia are under evacuation orders.

The Daily Mail reports:

Meteorologists expect the powerful hurricane to hit the Sunshine State between 5am and 7am ET on Sunday.

‘Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,’ Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. ‘We’re going to have a couple rough days.’

The storm was first downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 earlier on Friday morning, but as of 5pm ET on Friday, it is predicted to hit the U.S. as a Category 5. This will only be the fourth time ever a Category 5 has hit US mainland.

As of 6.30pm ET Friday, the hurricane is moving west at 12 mph and located 345 miles southeast of Miami.

Government officials along with the National Hurricane Center have cautioned that Irma is ‘extremely dangerous’ with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. That’s strong enough to bring down power poles, uproot trees and rip the roofs off of homes.

In preparation for what is predicted to be the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in years, an estimated 1.4million people have been given mandatory evacuation orders in both Florida and Georgia.

Hurricane Irma has already killed at least 24 people in the Caribbean.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has warned Gulf Coast residents who have not evacuated to leave immediately.

Governor Scott’s warning to leave by midnight should be elaborated on. Evacuate as soon as possible.

The Daily Mail continues:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is telling residents in the southern coastal evacuation areas to leave by midnight.

‘If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk,’ Scott said at a Friday press conference.

He also urged residents on the Gulf Coast to take evacuation orders seriously since Irma’s path has moved slightly west.

‘You are not going to survive this if it happens,’ Scott said. ‘Now is the time to evacuate.’

The forecasts show that dangerous storm surges could begin as early as Saturday night before the storm even hits Florida.

It’s then expected to track directly up the state, crossing the state line into Georgia early next week.

Hurricane Irma killed at least 24 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless as it devastated small islands in its path.  And it’s already proved deadly in the U.S. A man installing hurricane shutters on his Florida home fell off a ladder and died on Thursday.

Wind hazards from Irma will continue northward along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina as the Hurricane travels north.

H/T: Weather Underground