As Hurricane Irma strengthens, Florida starts evacuations

Hurricane Irma strengthened into a Category 5 storm on Tuesday as Florida authorities called up the National Guard and began selective evacuations.

The Sunshine State is bracing for a big hit ahead of the storm’s expected weekend landfall on the US mainland.

Oil and product tankers, container ships and cargo vessels scheduled to arrive in Port Everglades near week’s end may delay or divert depending on the storm.

Tuesday’s projections now have Irma’s eye arriving in the south of the state on Sunday.

Tourists in the Florida Keys have already been told to evacuate and residents should be getting similar instruction soon.

All 7,000 of the state’s National Guard members have been told to report by Friday.

The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami has called Irma ” potentially catastrophic”.

And it urged Puerto Rico to expedite preparations, warning if possible deadly storm surges.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has set port condition X-Ray for the US Virgin Islands and for Puerto Rico, alerting ports in those places to the likely arrival of tropical storm force winds.

Other islands in the Leeward and Greater Antilles chains could also feel Irma’s impact.

This hurricane comes shortly after Hurricane Harvey caused devastation in Texas, especially Houston.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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