Hurricane Irma’s heading straight for Miami, as this National Hurricane Center chart illustrates. South Florida has officially gone under a hurricane warning with the mayor of Miami Beach calling this a “nuclear” storm. Although Irma officially became the strongest storm in recorded history — because it sustained maximum winds over 185 mph for so long — the system has been downgraded to a Category 4. However, that’s still “extremely dangerous” in classification, and Irma’s still-intense 155 mph hour winds (along with its sheer size) are guaranteed to devastate Florida.
Currently, Miami is expected to start feeling the first tropical winds from Irma on Saturday. The situation will accelerate throughout the evening, and U.S. landfall is projected to occur Sunday morning. All of this will occur after the storm has passed between Cuba and the Bahamas and already killed at least 10 people throughout the Caribbean.
Mandatory evacuations are ongoing throughout Florida — the situation being made ever more difficult because there’s no direction for people to flee but north. Some gas stations have run out of fuel, highways are clogged, and airlines are adding as many flights as they can feasibly sustain with existing airport infrastructure. Yet as Governor Rick Scott has warned, “We cannot save you when the storm starts.” Likewise, authorities in the Florida Keys have said that anyone calling the 911 system for help likely won’t receive an answer once all hell breaks loose.
After the storm strikes Miami, Irma’s projected to travel straight through the entire state, largely at Category 3 status. From there, it will impact Alabama and significantly affect both Georgia and the Carolinas. Outside Florida, those affected areas will begin to feel the storm’s impact late Sunday into Monday. We will, of course, continue to provide updates as they arrive.