Hurricane targeting South Florida landfall, forecasters say
Irma's death toll is at 10, officials say, after US Virgin Islands announce deaths there
[Breaking News Update 11:30 p.m.]
The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for South Florida. The warning extends from Jupiter Inlet on the east coast of the state, southward around the Florida Peninsula to Bonita Beach on the west coast. The warning included the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay. The same area had previously been under a hurricane watch.
[Story last published 10:51 p.m. ET]
Conditions in the Turks and Caicos deteriorated Thursday as deadly and massive Hurricane Irma moved in on the islands – and continued tracking toward South Florida where it could slam Miami this weekend.
“It has become more likely that Irma will make landfall in southern Florida as a dangerous major hurricane, and bring life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts to much of the state,” the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
The hurricane center forecast moved the most likely path of the eye of the storm to the west in its 5 p.m. ET advisory.
“It looks like it’s shifting, even though it may be just 20 miles, it puts Miami right in the worst possible position,” CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said.
“Because when you look at the formidable storm, the strongest winds, the strongest storm surge, the bands of heavy rain are always in that north, northeastern quadrant.”
But Sater cautioned that some models show the storm farther west and some farther east. It is still more than 600 miles from Florida.
Irma, a Category 5 storm churning in the Atlantic with 175 mph sustained winds, killed at least 10 people on Wednesday as it devastated small northeastern Caribbean islands such as Barbuda and left hundreds of thousands of customers in Puerto Rico without power.
“Regardless of which (Florida) coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday at a news conference, with forecasters warning the storm could reach South Florida by Sunday.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for many counties in South Florida, but Scott said others in Florida need to watch Irma’s path and be re