(CNN, Sept 9,2017): Hurricane Irma battered northern Cuba then made a turn for Florida, where it’s expected to hammer the state with whistling winds, heavy rain and surging waves.
Florida authorities went door-to-door warning residents of the massive hurricane, sending crowds jamming highways as they fled north.
The Category 4 storm had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph Saturday morning. Before it was slightly downgraded, it made landfall on Cuba’s Camaguey Archipelago as a Category 5 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said Friday night.
Irma hit Ciego de Avila province with gusts so strong, it destroyed the instrument used to measure wind, Cuba’s meteorological agency reported.
Cuba recorded waves of up to 23 feet high, and as the storm moves westward, bigger ones are a possibility.
Irma edged closer to South Florida after killing 24 people in the Caribbean this week, and strengthened to a Category 5 storm in Cuba. Hours earlier Friday, it was a Category 4.
Irma is expected to be near the Florida Keys and South Florida by early Sunday, and many residents there have moved inland. About 5.6 million people in the state have been ordered to evacuate, Gov. Rick Scott said.
Florida officials sent dire warnings imploring residents on the path of the storm to evacuate.