Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 4 storm that has left a swath of devastation in its wake, is still on track to make landfall in Florida Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center —but the state is already feeling its effects.
The outer bands of Irma have arrived in Florida and there are strong winds coming with them, according to a tweet from the National Weather Service Twitter account for Miami-South Florida.
“You cannot survive this,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents Saturday morning about the 12-foot storm surge. “If you’re not on the road on the west coast by noon, you need to get to a shelter, get to a friend’s house if you’re in an evacuation zone. Get off the road,” he said.
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Irma, which temporarily strengthened to a Category 5 storm as it hit Cuba Saturday, already made its way over the Dominican Republic, parts of Haiti, Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and others.
Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida early Sunday morning, according to the 8 a.m. projection. But the state could experience hurricane-force winds as early as Saturday night. The storm is projected to head through the center of Florida for the remainder of Sunday, possibly affecting both the east and west coast of the state, before heading over parts of Georgia and Alabama Tuesday morning, according to the latest update.
Then, depending on its path, the hurricane — with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour — could potentially hit areas in other states including Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas by 2 a.m. Wednesday.
According to the latest projections, it appears North and South Carolina could just narrowly miss the brunt of the storm.
A storm surge warning, meaning rising water at a life-threatening level is possible within 36 hours, is in effect for Miami and southeastern Florida — which is projected to be on the strongest side of the storm, according to ABC News — as well as nearly all of Florida’s coastline.
Hurricane warnings are now as far north as the Flagler/Volusia County line on the Atlantic side, according to The Weather Channel, and Citrus County on the Gulf side. That includes Florida Keys, Ft. Myers, the Tampa/St. Petersburg metro, Naples, Miami, and West Palm Beach.
And a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours, is in effect for north Florida, which includes the Jacksonville area.
Irma is expected to remain a Category 4 storm until making contact with Florida.