Florida Governor Rick Scott has not only issued a state of emergency with the approaching hurricane, but he is also urging people to evacuate.
Thousands of people have been encouraged to evacuate Florida and move north before Hurricane Irma makes landfall.
Scott said on Thursday, “If you live in any evacuation zones and you’re still at home, leave!” He added, “Do not try to ride out this storm … we can’t save you once the storm hits.”
At least 500,000 people in South Florida now face evacuation orders.
Hurricane Irma is located about 55 miles miles west-southwest of Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos, and about 90 miles east of Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 8 p.m. ET advisory. The storm is headed west-northwest at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, and is currently “pummeling” Turks and Caicos.
People need to realize that this is not a joke. This storm will be the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 7, 2017
Scott said, “Irma will have major hurricane impacts,” as he spoke about the storm moving in on Friday night.
Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties are all now under a hurricane watch, which is issued 48 hours in advance by the National Hurricane Center. The watch means hurricane conditions will be possible within the next two days in the specified area, and residents should prepare accordingly.
Hurricane Irma has killed at least 13 people as it has tore through the Caribbean, including three deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands.