World Bulletin / News Desk
Florida declared a state of emergency Tuesday as residents braced for Hurricane Irma, an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm and the most powerful seen in the Atlantic Ocean in over a decade.
Irma - packing 185 mile-an-hour (297 kilometer per hour) winds and gusts of more than 200 mph as of 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT) – was bearing down on the Leeward Islands in the northeast Caribbean on a forecast path toward Florida.
"Irma is expected to affect the northeastern Leeward Islands as an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane, accompanied by life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.
"There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend."
Irma is currently tied as the second-strongest Atlantic hurricane, according to the NHC. Only Hurricane Allen, in 1980, was stronger, with peak winds of about 190 mph (305 kilometers per hour).
"With sustained winds of 180mph, #Irma is now stronger than Katrina was at its peak. A monstrous, horrific storm," Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist, wrote on Twitter.
Hurricane Katrina, which struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history. Nearly 1,800 people lost their lives and the storm caused more than $120 billion in damage.
Officials in Florida have begun urging people to leave certain areas that could take a direct hit from Irma. Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said Tuesday that officials may ask some residents to begin evacuating as early as Wednesday.
“This hurricane is far too powerful, poses far too great a threat, for us to delay actions any further,” Gimenez said at a news briefing.
He also urged people in the county to have at least three days’ worth of food, water and other basic supplies on hand.
Most shelves in stores and supermarkets around southwest Florida were empty of water and food as people prepared for Irma.Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2017, 09:11