Tuesday 17 October 2017

Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida as public warned of life threatening conditions

A tornado is seen from Fort Lauderdale beach, Florida, U.S., September 9, 2017, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.
A tornado is seen from Fort Lauderdale beach, Florida, U.S., September 9, 2017, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.
In this geocolor GOES-16 satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at 18:30 UTC (2:30 p.m. EDT), the eye of Hurricane Irma moves northwest just off the coast of Cuba and south of Florida. The National Hurricane Center says it's looking more likely that the eye of powerful Hurricane Irma will strike the Florida Keys starting Sunday. (NOAA via AP)
Waves crash against the seafront boulevard El Malecon ahead of the passing of Hurricane Irma, in Havana, Cuba September 9, 2017.
Waves crash against the seafront boulevard El Malecon as Hurricane Irma turns toward the Florida Keys on Saturday, in Havana, Cuba September 9, 2017.
People take shelter at Key West High School in Key West, Florida, U.S. as Hurricane Irma approaches, in this September 9, 2017 still image taken from social media.
People take shelter at Key West High School in Key West, Florida, U.S. as Hurricane Irma approaches, in this September 9, 2017 still image taken from social media.
Strong winds and choppy sea are seen in Key Largo, Florida, U.S. as Hurricane Irma approaches, in this September 9, 2017 still image taken from social media video.
A police car patrols the beach in anticipation for Hurricane Irma, in Hollywood, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
Storm clouds associated with the outer bands of Hurricane Irma shroud the downtown skyline Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Several parts of the Tampa Bay area are under a mandatory evacuation order for the approaching storm. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Dark clouds are seen over Miami's skyline before the arrival of Hurricane Irma to south Florida, U.S. September 9, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Hurricane Irma has reached the Florida Keys as people in the historic storm's path are being warned their situation may "deteriorate significantly".

Having battered the north coast of Cuba as a category three storm, Irma regained its category four status, carrying with it a life-threatening storm surge.

The hurricane began to affect the Sunshine State late on Saturday, with its forward reaches sending "embedded tornadoes" sweeping across southern parts.

Irma's eyewall - a band of clouds surrounding the centre of the storm - reached the low-lying Keys island chain on Sunday morning, with the eye of the storm 15 miles southeast of Key West.

More than six million people in Florida and Georgia have been urged to leave their homes, while tens of thousands of people were huddling in shelters as the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned the storm would bring 130 mph winds, torrential rain and storm surges of up to 15ft.

Florida governor Rick Scott called on anyone still in at-risk areas to follow evacuation orders, saying: "This is clearly a life-threatening situation."

Strong winds and choppy sea are seen in Key Largo, Florida, U.S. as Hurricane Irma approaches, in this September 9, 2017 still image taken from social media video.
Strong winds and choppy sea are seen in Key Largo, Florida, U.S. as Hurricane Irma approaches, in this September 9, 2017 still image taken from social media video.

"If you have been ordered to evacuate you need to leave now. This is your last chance to make a good decision," he said on Saturday night.

"Evacuation procedures are in place across the state, more than 6.5 million Floridians have been ordered to evacuate. Do not put yourself or your family's life at risk."

There are fears the low-lying Florida Keys, where near hurricane-force wind gusts were recorded late on Saturday, will suffer catastrophic damage.

Monitoring the situation from Camp David, President Donald Trump urged people in the danger areas to heed the governor's advice.

Forecasters offered some hope to residents of Tampa and Miami, which will now potentially be spared the direct hit predicted for days.

But the swing to the west means St. Petersburg could be hit by the centre of the storm, which left more than 20 people dead when it tore across the Caribbean.

Storm clouds associated with the outer bands of Hurricane Irma shroud the downtown skyline Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Several parts of the Tampa Bay area are under a mandatory evacuation order for the approaching storm. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Storm clouds associated with the outer bands of Hurricane Irma shroud the downtown skyline Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. Several parts of the Tampa Bay area are under a mandatory evacuation order for the approaching storm. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Powerful Hurricane Jose began to pull away from the northern Leeward Islands late on Saturday, although a tropical storm watch remains in place for St Martin and St Barts, where Irma wrought destruction days ago.

Online Editors

Independent.ie Comments Facility

INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.

We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie


Editors Choice

Also in World News