Hurricane Irma Aims for Florida Keys, Tampa After Ripping Through Cuba

Hurricane Irma Aims for Florida Keys, Tampa After Ripping Through Cuba

The National Hurricane Center says storm surge is "often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane", and Norman agrees.

The last major hurricane - a storm with winds of at least 111 miles per hour (180 kph) - to hit Florida was Wilma in 2005.

Irma's winds dropped to 150 miles per hour, still a Category 4 unsafe storm, as it moves between Cuba and the Bahamas over warmer than normal waters that can intensify tropical storms. Some 1,105 workers have been deployed to the islands to help with recovery from the damage caused by Irma last week. The Guardian reported that at least three people have been confirmed dead and rescuers are looking for missing people.

The resort island with a population of fewer than 2,000 was devastated.

"It's an enormous catastrophe".

On "Happening Now", Heather Childers talked to freelance journalist Kelsey Nowakowski, who said she could not get off the island in time. Daniel Gibb, a local official told Radio Caribbean International that here the island is facing "enormous catastrophe".

Deputies Rescue Stranded Manatees in Manatee County Florida
Deputies Rescue Stranded Manatees in Manatee County Florida

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shared images of the storm as they passed overhead.

"I think now with what's happened with the hurricane, I'm going to ask for a speed-up. We're preparing for the worst", said Annick Girardin, France's minister for overseas territories. In a Twitter statement today, KSC officials said the center is entering a secure HURCON 1 condition as the storm approaches.

"This will be a devastating storm for central Florida, Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples (and) all the way down to Key West", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. The latest forecast predicted U.S. landfall on Sunday southwest of the Miami metropolitan area, home to some six million people, before moving up the state's Gulf Coast. (David Goldman/AP) A woman pulls a travel case on a rock-scattered road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on September 7, 2017. "A lot of infrastructure won't be able to withstand this kind of force". On Thursday, however, the French weather service said it will likely bypass land.

As Hurricane Irma raked its way over Cuba on Saturday, creating risky surf and forcing evacuations across the island nation, some residents sought refuge far below the storm's fury - in underground military bunkers.

Irma is being followed by category four hurricane Jose, which is expected to affect the Bahamas and Bermuda but is not forecast to make landfall in the US. Isle of Palms, South Carolina, to Fernandina Beach may also see up to 6 feet of water. Five people died. Andrew slammed into Florida as a Category 5 storm in 1992 and at the time was the costliest hurricane in USA history with damages of $26.5 billion. The hurricane comes just two weeks after Harvey smashed ashore in Texas, knocking offline nearly a quarter of US oil refining capacity and causing widespread power outages and flooding.

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