What You Need to Know About Hurricane Irma As the Storm Heads for Florida
After battering the Caribbean, leaving 19 dead, Hurricane Irma is headed for Florida.
The hurricane has been downgraded to a Category 4 storm, but authorities in Florida warned residents to brace for a high level of damage.
“I can guarantee you that I don’t know anybody in Florida who’s ever experienced what’s about to hit South Florida,” said FEMA administrator Brock Long, The New York Times reported.
Torrential rains and winds of up to 150 miles per hour are expected to hit the Florida Keys by late Saturday, bringing potential surges with them, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Over half a million people have been ordered to evacuate the state, while the Carolinas and Georgia have also declared an emergency.
More than 2,000 flights have already been canceled, with more cancelations expected,USA Today reported. American Airlines announced it would halt all flights out of the Miami airport by 4 p.m. Friday, and Orlando will stop flights Saturday afternoon.
Key West airport has already stopped all flights, and Fort Lauderdale Airport is scheduled to have its last flight depart Friday evening.
Thousands of cruise ship passengers have been left stranded in Miami, after ships were diverted from the Caribbean, the Los Angeles Times reported. Passengers have had to scramble to find flights or car rentals out of Florida as the storm has followed them. Irma has even diverted ships as far away as Baltimore, according to USA Today.
Passengers on any airline or cruise ship should always check directly with their provider for the most up to date information.
Meanwhile, two other hurricanes — José and Katia — have been building in the Atlantic.
Hurricane José has strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mile per hour winds. Hurricane Katia is gathering strength and could hit Mexico over the weekend.