Hurricane Irma is Battering Florida

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 1977d ago

Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm on record, has made landfall in Florida after bludgeoning Cuba.

Live updates from Hurricane Irma HERE

UPDATE: Monday September 11, 11.54am The military have been scrambled to rescue people left stranded by Hurricane Irma. The Florida Keys remains effectively cut off from the mainland due to severe flooding.

The only way in is via US-1, but police have locked that down while structural assessments are carried out on bridges. Homes have been completely obliterated by the storm. It is not yet known how many people have been impacted but the military are preparing to launch their rescue effort.

UPDATE: Monday, September 11, 4.10am EDT: Irma has now been downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a Category 1 but still has maximum sustained winds of 85mph. Around 4.4 million homes have been left without power and the streets of downtown Miami have been turned into rivers. The centre of the hurricane is currently around Tampa.

UPDATE: Sunday, September 10, 3.20pm EDT: Hurricane Irma is now hammering Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. Maximum sustained winds are now at 120 mph. Though a downgrade, Irma remains dangerous and residents are being urged to remain in shelter.

Irma is heading north-north westward and is expected to move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, reports are coming in from Cuba after Irma tore through the country on Saturday. It is understood that no one has been killed as a result of the storm, but 39 buildings have collapsed in the city of Santa Clara. The country's military had been proactive in evacuating residents and flooding in Havana is expected to subside after 36 hours. Waters on Saturday reached 600 metres into the city.

EARLIER: Sunday, September 10, 12pm EDT: Three people have been killed in Florida as Irma struck - and more than 1 million people have been left without power. A man in Monroe County has died after losing control of his truck and two other people, including a sheriff's deputy, died in a car crash in Hardee County.

More than 100,000 people have sought refuge in shelters across the State. Irma is expected to hug Florida's west coast, making its way north west. Downtown Miami is currently underwater.

EARLIER: The hurricane's northern eyewall is about to reach the lower keys of Florida and already, more than 400,000 people have been left without power.

Irma had been downgraded to a Category 3 but has now restrengthened and will hit Florida as a Category 4 – it is still extremely dangerous, with sustained winds of around 130 mph. The hurricane is expected to travel up the west coast of the State.

Most of Florida's airports have been closed and Florida Governor Rick Scott has urged more then 6 million people to evacuate. “If you're in an evacuation zone, you've got to get out; you can't wait,” he said, before making a plea nurses to help out at temporary shelters.

The National Hurricane Center said: “At 8am EDT, the center of Hurricane Irma was located about 20 miles east-southeast of Key West, moving toward the north-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h), and an increase in forward speed is expected later today, with that motion continuing through Monday.

“On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should move over the Lower Florida Keys shortly, and then move near or over the west coast of the Florida Peninsula later today through tonight. Irma should then move inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia Monday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph.”

Earlier this week, Irma levelled the islands of Babuda and St Martin in the Caribbean on its way to Florida before causing destruction in Cuba. 23 people have been confirmed dead so far.

We'll keep you up to date with the latest.

Cover shot: Irma approaches Florida from NOAA