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10 September 2017, 09:15 | Rufus Hill
Hurricane Irma Live Updates: Storm Strikes Cuba and Turns Toward Florida Keys
Wind speeds are expected to steadily increase throughout the day on Saturday, and the storm's center is forecast to arrive in the Keys on Sunday morning, then travel up the west coast of the peninsula.
It's expected to hit Florida as a Category 4 storm.
"These winds are stronger than those of Kate", said Rosa.
A recent view from NASA's Aqua satellite on Saturday morning revealed cold temperatures in the cloud tops of thunderstorms surrounding Hurricane Irma's core, as well as in a band of thunderstorms over the Florida Keys.
Miami Beach, on the other hand, has a steep dropoff to its continental shelf, which could limit the storm surge to about eight or nine feet under a Category 4 hurricane.
When we touched down we had a message from our hire vehicle company that they would soon be closing up for the storm. A few showers can not be ruled out for Saturday afternoon, otherwise a gradual building of clouds similar to Friday's weather.
A turn toward the northwest and Florida is now expected by late Saturday. Since the storm was originally projected to head up the east coast near the heavily urbanized Miami-Ft.
More than half of the stations in the West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce and Fort Myers-Naples areas have run dry.
Tampa may take a direct hit, its first brush with such a massive storm in almost a century, according to the Associated Press. "The hospitals I've talked to are confident they're doing everything they can".
In all, officials have issued both mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders that affect some 6.3 million people, making it the largest evacuation effort in the state's history. Those who take to the road now could find road closures, shut-down businesses and worsening storm conditions that may impede their ability to leave.
Throughout this week, Irma's projected course has changed multiple times.
Earlier this week, officials ordered an historic evacuation in Florida, which has been hampered by clogged highways, petrol shortages and the challenge of moving elderly people.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. (1500 UTC) advisory the massive storm had weakened to a category-3 hurricane, with 205 kph winds but that it was forecast to become stronger again once it moved away from Cuba. France said 10 people had died, while the Netherlands said the storm killed two on the Dutch side, called Sint Maarten.
Early Saturday, tropical storm force winds had started lashing parts of the Florida chain of islands, pushing storm surge ashore.
As per IANS, maximum sustained winds of 160 km per hour, and gusts of 213 km per hour, knocked down trees, lamp posts and even ripped some park benches from the ground.
"We wanted to come down one last time", said Ian Urbas, who says he plans to stay put in Jacksonville and ride out the hurricane. Winds well in excess of 100 miles per hour are expected but the real worry is storm surge, which could push the Atlantic into the streets of Key West, Marathon and other islands.
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