Florida Governor Scott: “The storm is here… Hurricane Irma is now impacting our state.” Nearly 25,000 people have lost power. pic.twitter.com/TDyniSoMsb
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 9, 2017
Hurricane Irma slammed into Cuba’s Camaguey Archipelago early Saturday, striking the town of Baracoa that sustained damage from Hurricane Matthew last year. Irma was still a Category Five storm when it struck Cuba, though the island slowed the storm to a Category Four. Although the storm is expected to leave Cuba at Category Three, Irma is expected to restrengthen as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico on a northward trajectory towards Florida, where evacuations and preparation have been underway for days. According to Florida governor Rick Scott, Irma is poised to become the “most catastrophic storm” in Florida’s history.
As Irma crossed over the Cuban resort town of Caibarién this morning, winds were clocking in at 130 mph and waves were reaching as much as 23 feet in height. In one location, a wind-measuring instrument was destroyed before it could get a reading. As of 11am, Irma was centered over Cuba and headed towards Havana. The hurricane is expected to reach the Florida Keys about 24 hours after Irma first landed in Cuba, after gaining more strength and increasing in ferocity. Over 50,00 fled the storm in Cuba, trying to get inland or to southern predicted to see less of Irma’s wrath than its northern coast.
Even residents of Georgia and South Carolina are scrambling to get out of Irma’s way should she track east over the weekend and press towards Savannah on Monday and Tuesday. Many Florida and Georgia evacuees who sought shelter inland in the Atlanta area may be in for an unpleasant surprise though. Current models show it’s more likely Irma will head west as she crashes inland and will pass directly over Atlanta and upwards towards Tennessee.