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Hurricane Irma Closing in on Florida as Category 4; Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 10, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

[05:00:10] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN is in continuous coverage of Hurricane Irma. This storm has decided to make us wait. We are experiencing a delay of the inevitable. The storm right now is about 50 nautical miles away from Key West. Overnight it has strengthened and it has slowed. And we're going to have the meteorologists explain how those two dynamics fit together.

We also now know that this storm is indeed as powerful as it is broad. We're expecting hurricane-force winds to stretch 70 miles away from the eye in all directions. That creates a much broader zone of danger. So the timeline has shifted later, but the reality is the same. This storm is coming. It's going to hit and it's going to hurt.

Already we're seeing these outer bands of the storm make a difference. At the latest count, we have almost 300,000 people in the state now without power. The last number was about 288,000, but that was some hours ago.

There are 52 of the 67 counties in Florida under hurricane watch. The governor could not have been more clear and consistent in asking people to evacuate.

If you're going to see good news in this situation, here it is. The delay in the window is an increase in your own opportunity to take yourself to safety, your loved ones, to make the preparations you will need to make.

Another little bit of a virtue right now is CNN has the entire span of where this storm will be covered. Let's put up the map of where we have our own assets. So everywhere the storm goes, we will be there.

We're also everywhere it has been. Cuba is now sending in pictures. The Tortolas are sending in pictures of what Hurricane Irma is capable of. That's important for two reasons. One, we want to be able to connect to the catastrophe elsewhere. The need is going to be great. The cost in terms of life and property very real. It is also a window, unfortunately, into our own future.

All right. Let's get to our hurricane center right now and get a sense of where this storm is headed, what has changed overnight, and what we can expect now and when. ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right. So we take a look at

the most recent update, literally just came in two minutes ago at the top of the hour.

Here's the latest that we have. Winds are 130 miles per hour. This is a category 4 storm. The movement has actually started to speed up a little bit. We're now up to 8 miles per hour, even though in general terms that may not sound like a very fast speed. That's moving faster for a hurricane.

We've also started to notice the eye wall replacement cycle that has taken place in the last hour. Traditionally, this means the storm is trying to re-intensify itself, which is unfortunate because it's getting ever so close to the Keys. Right now about 40 miles away from the Keys as it continues to take that center of circulation over it.

Again, here's a closer look. We still expect it to cross over the Keys around 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. local time this morning. The track will continue to take it up along the western coast, clipping places like Naples, Ft. Myers, and eventually making its way towards Tampa. The thing is, the reason it's been taking this track, a lot of people have wanted to know why is it taking such a sharp turn to the north.

This is why. We've had multiple things placing this setup. The past couple of days, it has been this high-pressure system over the Atlantic that's been steering it this way. The reason it won't continue to go west out over the open gulf is this high-pressure system sitting off the coast of Texas that is essentially blocking it from going out into the gulf. So it's going to have to go north. That's the only direction it can go from here.

The question is, what does it do when it starts to get in towards the true mainland? We're talking entering states like Georgia and into Alabama. Once it gets into the panhandle, it's going to encounter very intense shear. And that should cause it to weaken incredibly quickly.

We are looking at storm surge because this is going to be one of the biggest impacts we have out of this system. The shear -- the storm surge, rather, will start on the east coast side. Then as the storm moves north, the storm surge will pull in on the west coast side. So both coasts are going to get impacts from the storm surge, the timing is just going to be slightly different for each of the individual coasts.

Here's a look at the radar. Again you can see that eye, the center of circulation, getting ever so close to Key West. Even though the main point, when it crosses over, won't be until 7:00 a.m., you are likely going to continue to see those winds increase and increase really quickly over the next two hours.

Here's a look at some of the maximum wind gusts that we expect as it continues to push forward. 135 around Key West. 137 around Ft. Myers. 127 around Tampa.

[05:05:07] Even by the time it gets to Tallahassee, you could still be looking at wind gusts nearing 100 miles per hour.

We also talk about this is the wind shear we talked about. This is unfavorable, all of this bright pink, which is why it's going from a 4 to a 3 down t a 1 very quickly. Good news for folks along the panhandle and for places like Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, but again you also have to keep in mind, Chris, that we are going to be dealing with incredibly heavy rain. Not just the storm surge but widespread amounts over the portions of Florida could still be 6 to 12 inches of rain total.

CUOMO: Allison, very, very helpful. Like many people here in Naples. And let's be honest, everywhere in Florida couldn't sleep last night. I walked down to the water, which is only a couple blocks away. I was watching the crane up there to see if it was going to rotate. And already the water in just these outer, outer, outer bands of Irma, the water is right up there. The marina, the boats, everything is already vulnerable. This area just can't take that much.

All right. So let's go to where it will all begin in terms of the United States' exposure to the storm . And Florida specific. Those are the keys. Key West, 50 miles away, is where the storm is. But you just heard Allison. That's the eye. But the hurricane-force winds are 70 miles out from that eye, which means it's coming even sooner.

We are positioned everywhere. Bill Weir is in the Florida Keys. He's in Key Largo.

What did you feel in the shift overnight? The idea that it slowed down and intensified, as I said, is just delaying the inevitable. How did it play there?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been interesting, Chris. It's the soundtrack of Irma through the window overnight. Sure there's the howl of the wind, of course, through the palm trees. There's the car alarms that go off, set off by these winds. But sometime in the middle of the night, I was woken up by slamming hurricane shutters, pieces of metal coming together as these gusts started to pick up.

We are on the Biscayne Bay side of Key Largo, the biggest key, the northern most key. And we're sort of tucked into this little hurricane hidey hole as best we can to stay out of the direct wind which is on the other side of this island.

We're in next to a little bitty harbor here. When we get first light, we're going to go out and see things blowing around, see how the boats are faring. But the National Weather Service in Key West, which has been doing yeoman's work around the clock sent out this tweet, all caps. "Florida Keys, this is it. Time to hunker down. The worst is yet to come."

Seeing a lot of downed trees. We didn't want to venture too far this morning to talk about flooding but we understand Key West, waters are about two feet above normal there. Our power went out overnight. No surprise, given all these trees coming down. They do have a generator in Key West should they get cut off from the mainland. That's the biggest fear among the colleagues who live down here on the southern most neighborhood of the United States, is that one of those bridges that connect the 43 habitable Florida Keys could go down and take not only their power lines to the mainland but their fresh water supply from the mainland.

They do have a desalination plant. So not -- you know, it's not as -- they won't be completely without power and water down there. Another thing to think about as the power goes out are sewage pumps and what happens if you can't pump that waste away. Days after the storm it's too disgusting to think about. But we're here all morning for you, Chris. We will keep an eye on things as they develop. And as first light breaks, it was a dark and stormy night and still is.

CUOMO: Well, look, Bill, the reporting very important. You, however, my friend, are essential. And I know that you and the team are going to keep safety as a priority. Let me ask you. You said you're seeing things are downed already. Does it give you a little bit of a perspective on how low the tolerance is in the Keys, how much they can take there without really getting into catastrophe mode? What is your sense?

WEIR: You mean in terms of flying debris? In terms of a low -- I guess, low elevation, right?

CUOMO: Yes, like how quickly -- yes, how quickly it will go from livable to not livable in terms of just daily life being disrupted in a way that's going to take time to fix.

WEIR: Oh, yes. We're already past that point, I think, you know, I mean, especially with the power out because it's not coming back on now for days, but in the most optimistic of terms.

CUOMO: That's the concern.

WEIR: And so yes, now it's time to deal with the realities of get your shoes on now. If your water pump is failing, you have a little bit of water pressure, fill the tub, put a little bit of bleach in there. Use that for everything but drinking. If you need to wash up.

[05:10:05] These are the things you've got to think about. You know, it's easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when you're sitting snug in your condo, even if you're hopefully in a stone structure, watching CNN, all these snacks, but when that power goes out, it's that first indication that, all right, here we go. It's getting real.

CUOMO: Listen, you know, the truth sometimes is tough to hear, but you are painting what the reality is going to be. And a good tip about what to do with water and how to prepare in advance. People can get on the Internet and see exactly how much bleach to how much water, what can be drunk, what cannot.

Bill, stay safe. We'll check back with you in just a little bit, my friend.

Let's get to John Berman now. He is down in Miami. And even though this track has been moving around, Miami is still going to get hit.

They've been dealing with power outage, John, since very early yesterday. And the governor said in his most recent briefing it will only get worse down there and they can't say for how long. How is it now?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: 170,000 people, Chris, without power in Miami-Dade. 170,000 people already and the storm is not at its worst here. We don't expect it to be as bad as it's going to get in Miami- Dade for four, five hours now. So 170,000 down. Not a good sign at these early stages.

Now, Chris, I'm standing where I was last night until about 11:00 at night. You were here all day yesterday. Let me tell you what's changed. The winds by and large stronger. I'd say 20 percent to 30 percent stronger consistently and coming from a different direction. It shows you sort of how Irma has been moving to the west. We're at a different point of this swirling storm. Yesterday the wind was really at my face all day. Now it's at my back. We're getting it from the other side right now and much stronger, to be sure.

Storm surge, just like all of the Florida peninsula, a major concern here. We haven't seen the waters rise much yet as far as we can tell. It has been mostly tidal. But these boats behind me, they've been kicking. They've been kicking.

Now out there behind me, you can see the bridge. That bridge goes out to Miami Beach. Miami Beach low lying. No more than three feet above sea level. Expecting a storm surge here that could be as much as six feet.

You know, we have pictures out there. You can see it's raining. It is blowing. A curfew still in place in Miami Beach. Mayor Philip Levine, he wanted people off the streets 8:00 last night until at least 7:00 this morning.

I wouldn't go out after 7:00 this morning. I mean, I would keep that curfew in your head at least in place. There's no point on being out here on the streets right now with the wind blowing like it is and the rains expected to fall much harder, Chris, as the morning continues.

CUOMO: Strong point, that even with the official curfews, your own safety should keep you indoors if -- you know, if at all possible. Unless you really have to get out.

All right. John, we're going to check back with you.

We're going to take a break now. John just made a point about that bridge connecting to Miami Beach from where he is in downtown Miami. Miami Beach even more vulnerable. We're going to check in there.

Again CNN has people everywhere that Irma will go. Please stay with CNN and stay safe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:17:34] CUOMO: Hurricane Irma is coming. There are no two ways about that. You are looking at Miami Beach. Even though she's still many hours away, this is the effect right now. Look at the imagery. A stop sign means nothing to this storm. She's smacking it around like it was a toy. And this is just the beginning.

This storm has slowed overnight. It's also strengthened. We'll take you through the science all morning, the changes in the path, and the impact. Already close to 300,000 without power in the area you're looking at there, that Miami-Dade area. 170,000 without power. John Berman is there. He just reported that for us.

We also have a team of CNN-ers in the area. Derek Van Dam is down there on Miami Beach dealing with the current situation.

The news that we're all going to have to wait for the worst doesn't seem to mean too much, Derek, when we're already getting hit with about what can be handled.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Chris, Irma is here. We're on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach and conditions here have deteriorated quickly with some of the stronger bands moving in.

I've got to show you what's behind me. Look at the signs shaking so quickly and violently. There's another sign over here that's already been knocked over. I've got to show you this because it's in a protected alley. But if this gets picked up by the wind, you can imagine that's a projectile that's going to cause some serious damage.

Let me take you over here. We've got palm trees that have already come down. And we've had transformers that have been blowing left, right, and center. The electricity continues to flicker. And it's also gone dark and light very quickly with the electricity coming in and out, and the winds have been very extreme.

We've had the National Weather Service actually just tweeting that Broward County will experience hurricane-force conditions from right now through the next couple of hours. We're experiencing it here on the coast of Miami-Dade and Miami Beach. And I'm not a very heavy person. I'm about 160 pounds, and it's whipping me around pretty intensely. And winds here have got to be 60, 65 miles per hour.

So you can imagine once this storm reaches its full potential along the west coast, that's going to cause some serious damage -- Chris.

CUOMO: I got to tell you, Derek, I got you by 60 pounds, which doesn't make me proud to say, but the wind is doing me the same way.

[05:20:02] When I was walking around this morning to get a feel, even these outer, outer bands of Irma are very potent.

Now the wind gets the headlines, it always does, but it is the water that kills. Drowning is the number one cause of death in hurricanes. What are you seeing in terms of storm surge down there on the beaches, on the streets? What are you seeing? VAN DAM: Let me take you over here, Chris. I'll walk down to the

street. This is Ocean Drive. Granted it's 5:00 in the morning. This area is normally bustling with people getting ready to start their day. There goes my hat. This area expecting a three to five-foot inundation of storm surge. So when the water that's just to my left, about 150 feet to my left, starts to push up with these strong winds, the strong bands that are moving in now, we do anticipate and the official forecast is a three to five-foot inundation.

Now there's elevation changes across the area, so it's going to be a local phenomenon that occurs. But nonetheless, storm surge is a major factor here on top of the flash flooding that's expected to occur. There's a strong band coming through now. I got to put my hood on because it's pelting my face -- Chris.

CUOMO: Put your hood on. You don't need to, you know, take it any worse than is absolutely necessary. Get yourself together.

Let's remind people that storm surge isn't just about the shoreline moving. It's about volume of water. So the entire piece of water that Derek is showing you is going to be three to five feet higher. So that can completely inundate an area very quickly. And that's why the officials are so worried that once that water comes in with waves on top, it's got a multiplier effect and it can overwhelm so quickly before you even have time to do anything about it.

That takes us to the last component of the concern here, Derek. And that is people. What do you know about how evacuated the area is? Have you seen anybody out there? Yes, you know, it's just the beginning of the day. There should be almost no traffic. But what do you know about how many people got out, whether the evacuation was satisfactory to the officials in that area?

VAN DAM: Chris, this place is a ghost town. People have evacuated. There has been no one in sight all night. But you know what, there's a mandatory curfew here as well. That's in effect right through 7:00 in the morning. And I wouldn't be surprised if they extend that as long as tropical storm or hurricane force conditions continue to pound this region.

It's just simply dangerous for anyone, really, to be out here. In fact, I'm feeling a bit susceptible to these conditions because it's deteriorated even since you and I have talked. So people hopefully, if they have decided to not heed the evacuation warning that they are bunkered inside and in part of their house, away from windows, but the word from Emergency Management here is that they are on their own.

If they did not leave, there is no one here to help them because winds have become more sustained than 40 miles per hour. That was the threshold for fire and police rescue here. They're going to start removing their emergency personnel from the roadways. And they're going to leave the people who stayed to fend for themselves -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Derek. Get out of harm's way there. We have a long day in front of us. Thank you so much for giving us great reporting of what's happening there right now. Now there is one component that you do still have if you're in that

area, you decided to stay. You have each other. And that is not some sugary optimism. Literally, know who is around you, know who has what types of supplies. Combine efforts. Stay safe together. It can make a huge difference in a situation like this, especially over time.

All right. We're going to take a quick break here.

Let me show you some pictures of what's happening with the boats. We care about people, not property. Be clear about that. But this is proof that the water wins. When you're tying up these boats, they can put all the lines on them that they want. Eventually if the water gets high enough and the wind whips it up enough, you're going down. And that is the reality that Hurricane Irma is going to bring to bear in a very big way all up and down the state of Florida.

Stay safe, stay together, and please stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:28:37] GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: The storm surge will rush in and it could kill you. If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave, now. This is your last chance to make a good decision. Do not put yourself or your family's life at risk. Now is the time to do the right thing for your family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe Irma is about 110 miles out. She's about to smack us in the mouth. We decided to stay when we first knew the thing was coming. We're on the fourth floor of a concrete condo. Hurricane is not (INAUDIBLE) a concrete condo. We're ready to ride it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Last clear chance. That's what Governor Scott was referring to. But remember, you still have each other. And that is not some sugary optimism. Talk to who's around you. Figure out who has what supplies.

This won't be just about surviving the movement of the initial storm and the worst bands. It's going to be about what happens afterwards. How long will it take for there to be power. How long until you can get out of the condo or the house or the structure that you're really confident in right now and hopefully you're correct and get the things that you need to get back to your normal life. All of those components count, not just the catastrophic period.

All right. So we're showing you, this is what's going on down in the West Palm Beach area now in Florida. All right. So where is that? That's the southeastern part of Florida, Palm Beach is the barrier island outside. Then you have West Palm Beach. That is a mandatory evacuation zone. That means nobody should be there.

[05:30:09] We have Brian Todd running around there for the last couple of days. Some people wanted to stay. Most people got out.

We are in Naples, Florida. This is the new area of concern, this west coast from here up into Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay has its own unique vulnerabilities. We'll be telling you about them throughout the morning and as we get into the later hours when the impact here is more imminent.

But already we're feeling Irma. And we are half a day away from getting the worst of it. Remember, we now know that this storm has strengthened. It is a category 4. It has slowed down. Its speed cut in about half. That can play in different ways. It certainly can guarantee longer duration of impact when it hits the Florida Keys.

That's where Bill Weir is. CNN has people all over, everywhere that Irma is going to be. Let's get to Bill Weir.

You've been there from the beginning. The stiff and stubborn culture, the rugged individualists who wanted to wait it out. And of course the concern will be making it through and then making a life there after. That's as big a part of the reality as right now.

WEIR: Absolutely. In fact, people down here who know, who grew up with hurricanes, I think I was reading last night that hurricane hits the Florida Keys on average every four years going back through recorded history.

This is a culture that's forged by the forces of the wind and the sky and the sea. And they know that, you know, this is just the appetizer. They're going to be dealing with the entree and dessert for weeks to come. They say, you know, you hide from wind and you run from water. That is -- you know, I guess those two things should just go together, I suppose.

Stay away from the coast, stay out of the wind. But in my reporterly duty, I'm going to venture out just to give you a sense of how the gusts are happening. We're starting to see trees come down. We're starting to see boats move around here. Here's the -- one of the national -- state symbols of Florida, the no golf cart parking sign.

I mean, this is the sort of thing that was standing last night when we left. And at some point in the night became a missile. But this is the immediate danger, as the wind is blowing stuff around. It's getting clucked by a piece of tree or pole or debris. And then comes the water.

We're hearing reports down in Key West that the water levels are some two feet above level down there. I was here for Wilma back in 2005 when 75 percent of Key West was inundated. And it came in two waves. They thought that the worst had passed in the morning and then there was a midnight wave that came back and surprised everybody.

As you know, Chris, we've been -- you have to microadjust. That's what makes this such a dramatic story is every minute something new develops. The storm path tracks a certain way. But as far as the Keys go, we know that there are a handful of people riding it out just on the other side of Key Largo because, as you said, they wanted to be close to their boats and start their recovery.

That goes against all conventional wisdom and all admonitions from those in authority. But we're -- you know, thoughts and prayers for those folks as well. We know down in Key West there's 10,000, 20,000, maybe 30,000 people in shelters there, people who just refused to stay. It's just in their DNA -- or refused to leave. It's in their DNA. And not to retreat. But we're all watching as Irma comes ashore here. Oh, these things are really starting to howl now.

CUOMO: Now as you --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know, you've been telling us and storytelling for us brilliantly about the rugged individualism that predominates that, you know, really special culture down there, but you can go either way on whether or not it's something to respect in time like this. Now that you're getting a feel for what's coming that way with these outer bands of Irma and you know what the situation is on the Key, what is your biggest concern about what Irma is going to impact?

WEIR: I think the biggest concern in this part of the world is the bridge going down and cutting them off from the mainland. You know, it is their lifeline. It's interesting -- you know, there was a guy named Flagler who built Florida, a big oil tycoon. He was the guy who says we should drain the swamp, the everglades, that, you know, this is going to be -- we can turn this place into paradise.

And they said that -- they say that Social Security and bug stray and air-conditioning changed Florida, but it was really big infrastructure projects, dams and dikes and bridges, like the original overseas railroad, which they built through the Great Depression, through three hurricanes.

[05:35:11] They finally completed this thing. But in 1935, it was taken out by the great Labor Day hurricane. And it just shows that if a bridge goes down, it may not come back. That's what they worry about -- Chris.

CUOMO: And two things to remember. One, you're right and all that infrastructure is now getting old and a lot of it hasn't been updated. That's going to be part of the story. And the second thing is one of the immutable laws of storms. Water always wins.

Bill, stay safe. Bill, we'll check back with you in a little bit.

Let's take a break right now. When we come back, this storm is all about change. Hurricane Irma keeps shifting. She's done it again. We have the latest storm track. New information right after this break. Stay safe, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:40:31] CUOMO: This is Miami right now. You're looking at live pictures of what Hurricane Irma is doing, and this is nothing. These are the outer, outer bands. The storm has strengthened but slowed. So we are not expecting that eye and the most intense, about 70 miles out from the eye in either direction -- in any direction, that will be the worst of it and it is still many hours away.

This is why. Officials told you not to wait for the worst before you made the best choice to be safe for yourself. So that's what's going on right now.

The story of Irma has been a story of change. This storm keeps adjusting its path in ways that are actually atypical.

Let's get to Allison Chinchar in the Hurricane Center because the path has changed again.

What do we know now?

CHINCHAR: All right. So it's shifted a mere 14 miles west. And while that may not seem like a lot, it has huge implications. For example, it used to contain directly over Ft. Myers, up through downtown Tampa. Now has shifted 14 miles west. Now this means it includes places like Clear Water, St. Pete Beach, Siesta Key.

Here's the problem. You would think moving away from Tampa would be a good thing, but actually, as it goes further west, it will allow more of that surge to come into Tampa Bay and actually in turn be worse for the folks around Tampa Bay. But that's just around the Tampa area. What are the implications for the rest of the state? So let's look at the rest of the track. Because as it shifts 14 miles west, that means it also shifts west further north into the panhandle.

So now you're starting to add more and more cities that wouldn't otherwise have had to deal with it. And now for a lot of them in the panhandle, Chris, they never really planned to evacuate. They thought they were well out of the track, but now that has certainly changed.

CUOMO: All right, Allison. Thank you very much. Let us know. We understand that this keeps shifting. And it is remarkable that we are feeling so much so soon. Everything here is being affected by this. We're seeing things start to fall victim to these winds, and we're still so many hours away.

Our thanks to Allison Chinchar.

Now Bill Weir is in Key Largo and he's been telling us this story of the conks, the rugged individualist, the culture down there in the Keys especially when it comes to storms. Very savvy, very experienced. Part of the life and often that breeds a unique form of reluctance to leave.

We have Tim Jones joining us right now. He is in Key Largo. He has decided to stay.

Tim, can you hear me?

TIM JONES, RESIDENT, KEY LARGO: Yes, I can hear you.

CUOMO: All right. So where are you? What is your level of safety and confidence?

JONES: I'm in cavity area which is Mile Marker in 92.5. I'm on the ocean side in a marina, where our boat is. We are not on the boat. We moved into a building here at the marina about last night. But we're literally 15 or 20 feet from the boat when we go out the doors.

CUOMO: How is she doing? I know that everybody who has a boat, this is one of their biggest fears, is how you tie it up, how many lines and what direction and what you can hold off when it comes to a storm like this. How are you doing so far?

JONES: Well, to give you a little bit of an idea, because most landowners don't understand, we have a 41-foot boat. She's 14 by 41, 45 foot overall. She's tied in place with about 700 feet of line. Including the anchor and the second (INAUDIBLE) that's wrapped around her plus all of her dock lines that are doubled. To give you an idea of what it takes to tie her down.

CUOMO: Right.

JONES: She is shifting. She's still in her slip. She is rubbing against the pole. I'd rather she not be rubbing against it, but it's too dark right now to go out and fix it.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: If you want I'll stand outside --

CUOMO: But what really matters right now. No, no, no. Do not -- no, no, that's OK. Don't go outside. Stay inside. Stay safe. And I hope your decision pays off for you. I hope everything is OK.

[05:45:02] And I hope you know who's around you so that you can combine efforts and cooperate if you get overwhelmed in any way there because as you know, it may sound like hype to some, but we're already seeing that this storm is going to pack a punch. So please stay safe and stay in touch, OK. You know how to get us. If the situation changes, call us, OK.

JONES: We can do that.

CUOMO: All right. Be safe. Thank you very much.

All right. Now you're looking at a live picture of Key Largo right there. We have Bill Weir and his team there in place. And he's been saying, you know, it's going to get whacked there. We've known that all along. No matter how the path shifts, it's really just about delaying the inevitable. Key Largo, all those keys starting with Key West are going to get whacked by this storm. And it's not going to be just about what the storm does in the first hour, second hour, third, fourth, fifth, up to about 10 hours of potential exposure.

It will speed up when it hits the Keys. That's what hurricanes do when over land. But it's going to take a long time. And then what will life be like after? That's as big a part of the equation, there's bigger concern for safety as what the hurricane will do in earnest at its worst moment. It's how do you live after it.

All right. So we're going to take a break here right now. CNN has people everywhere the storm is going to be. The storm path has shifted. We'll tell you how and what that means. Already over 250,000 people without power and we ain't seen nothing yet.

Stay safe, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:51:02] CUOMO: So many of you online asking when is Hurricane Irma going to be here. Right now. This is live picture. We are just seeing the least of it. No question about that. The storm about 40- plus nautical miles off of Key West. The Keys will get hit first. The storm has strengthened. It has slowed, but it is coming.

The timeframe has changed. The predictions have not. The path has shifted a little bit to the west, and we have that information for you. We've been showing you all the updates all morning long.

This is Miami Beach, Florida. We have John Berman in position there. He's been there for many hours. And that's why I ask you the question this way, my friend.

Even though we've been seeing the least of it, I noticed here in Naples -- I couldn't sleep last night like most people in Florida -- and walking around it's already at about capacity. It's already about saturated. That the water down just a couple of blocks away, it's already starting to crest over the banks in the marina there. It doesn't take much to do a lot in this area, and that's the big concern. What happens when the worst comes.

BERMAN: No, it sure doesn't take much, Chris. Right behind me, we've had these boats here rocking all night long. And oh, I see a sign that's blown into the water right. Look, expecting a storm surge here of three to six feet. Six feet would definitely put it over where I'm standing right now, about to my waist or more.

And I think you put it perfectly, Chris. You know, people have been waiting for the impact of the eye on the Florida Keys or on the mainland. But Hurricane Irma is already here. It is being felt -- it has been felt here in Miami since yesterday, since we've been standing here. We've been having these relentless wind gusts, sustained winds of 40 miles an hour and wind gusts much higher than that, not to mention the torrential rains.

Out there is Miami Beach. Less protected even than we are right here. In over the last half hour, we've had this light show, an unfortunate light show out there on Miami Beach. Transformers blowing. We saw a string of them blowing, starting down there. These green explosion down Miami Beach.

Right now in Miami-Dade County, 190,000 people without power now, Chris. That's 20,000 more than when we last spoke just a few minutes ago. So more and more people losing power throughout the morning. In Broward County, just north of here, 90,000 people are already

without power. And we can't say this enough. The bad stuff hasn't even come yet. It is going to get worse. So already the impact is being felt of Hurricane Irma.

And in a lot of ways, Chris, you know, what we're getting here, you're going to see it and you're going to see it much worse in just a few hours.

CUOMO: So from 170,000 to 190,000, that puts it at 300,000 at least across the state without power. And as you were telling me yesterday, it's not just about how many, it's about how long. And of course, we'll be measuring every type of different impact the storm has, but the people matter most. When you were getting over there this morning, and of course, you know, it's so early here, zero dark 30, but are there still people around? Do you get the sense that there are going to be more people exposed here than there was supposed to be?

BERMAN: Now the caveat here is it was before 5:00 a.m. when we were out. There aren't many people out on the streets before 5:00 a.m. on a normal day. But even last night, Chris, you were right here at this marina yesterday. And there were all kinds of people checking their boats, walking past.

As the night wore on and the winds picked up and the rain started falling, it emptied out. Very few people out and about. It would be hard to be outside right now unless you absolutely had to be. And really there's not many people who have any reason why they have to be outside right now. The winds are just that strong. And the rain at times, you know, relentless. And we have seen water collecting.

[05:55:02] Right where I'm standing now is dry, but we had an inch or two of standing water here. And then going back just to where we're staying the hotel which is only a few blocks away, you know, serious puddles right now. That's not storm surge. That's the collection from the rain right now. So not a time to be out. And luckily, Chris, we haven't seen anyone out.

CUOMO: It's true. You know, for people who don't know you, John, you're not just smart, you're fast. And you hide from wind, you run from water. And I'm telling you, you know, in a few hours, you're not going to be where you are right now. You're going to be high tailing it out of there. And I know you'll do it for safety. And that's the frame of mind everybody has to be in.

My friend, stay safe. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

We're going to take a break now. CNN is going to stay on Hurricane Irma. The path has changed, but the reality has not. The storm is coming. It's going to be bad. And in fact, it's already here. But we ain't seen nothing yet.

Stay safe, stay with CNN.

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