Irma: Category 4 hurricane hits Florida coast hard (VIDEOS)

  • The category four storm with sustained winds up to 130mph (209km/h) moved away from the Florida Keys and should make landfall on the west coast in hours
  • More than 6.3 million people in Florida were told to evacuate, with warnings of a "life-threatening" storm surge
  • More than one million homes are without power
World

FLORIDA – Hurricane Irma, upgraded to category 4, has made landfall on the lower Florida Keys, bringing high winds and heavy rains. Irma has already caused death and widespread destruction in the Caribbean, and more than a quarter of Florida’s population has been ordered to evacuate.


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The category four storm with sustained winds up to 130mph (209km/h) moved away from the Florida Keys and should make landfall on the west coast in hours.

High winds and storm surges are affecting the Miami area, with reports of flooding in the city’s financial district.
More than one million homes are without power.

More than 6.3 million people in Florida were told to evacuate, with warnings of a “life-threatening” storm surge.
Irma has already devastated parts of the Caribbean with at least 27 deaths.

As the eye of the storm is moving north to mainland Florida, more than 1.4 million homes in the state are reported to be without power and some 50,000 people have taken refuge in shelters.

Cities such as Tampa and St Petersburg seem set to bear the brunt. The Tampa Bay area, with a population of about three million, has not been hit by a major hurricane since 1921.

“We are about to get punched in the face by this storm,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said he was “very concerned” about the west coast.

He told NBC that though authorities had prepared all week for the arrival of Irma, the prospect of such a large storm surge was “really scary”.

Effects are being felt in the Miami area. Miami Beach Police Major Richard Rand told the BBC there was flooding, including 2-3ft inland, and many power lines were down.