The eye of Hurricane Irma has reached Florida’s southern islands and is now a category four storm, according to forecasters. The storm is expected to head toward the Keys with wind speeds reaching 130 mph (209 km/h).
Millions of Florida residents have already fled to safety after official warnings were issued that huge storm surges could come up that could be “life-threatening.” Irma has already destroyed major parts of the Caribbean, causing at least 25 deaths.
Extreme winds, close to the eye of the hurricane, are expected to last for at least two hours in the lower Florida Keys area, including Key West.
Due to fears that a storm surge reaching up to 15 ft (4.6 m) could hit the coral cay islands, all residents were ordered to leave. Most of these islands are only a few feet above sea level.
According to a news quote, one official said staying on the islands would be “almost suicide.” While the eye of the storm moves north toward mainland Florida, it is reported that more than 430,000 homes in the state are without power.