Hurricane Irma has shifted direction overnight, prompting new evacuation orders from Florida Governor, Rick Scott, that now affect 5.6 million of his state’s residents.
The cone of the hurricane is moving further west than formerly anticipated, with a direct hit now projected for southwest Florida, and a trajectory that could potentially bring the mega-storm up the Gulf Coast to Tampa.
The AP reports –
Hurricane Irma’s outer bands blew into South Florida on Saturday as residents scrambled to leave ahead of the massive storm that’s now aimed at the Tampa Bay area and the state’s Gulf Coast.
Forecasters expect Irma’s core to come ashore Sunday and strike the Keys, southwestern Florida and the Tampa Bay region, which hasn’t felt a major hurricane since 1921.
The eye is expected to miss heavily-populated Miami, but that area will still get life-threatening hurricane conditions even without a direct hit, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.”
Irma weakened slightly to Category 4 with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) on Saturday, but it was expected to pick up strength again as it closes in on Florida.
Governor Scott is urging residents of West Florida to be evacuating by 12:00 pm EST at the absolute latest, or shelter in place, as the path of Hurricane Irma has changed.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 9, 2017
“If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now,” ordered Governor Scott in his latest press conference on Saturday morning. “Do not wait. Evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour – you need to go now. If you are in an evacuation zone, leave.”
“Evacuations are in place across the state. More than 5.6 Floridians have been ordered to evacuate. You need to listen to local evacuation orders.”
“If you live in an evacuation zone in southwest Florida, you need to be on the road by noon (EST) or find the nearest shelter to avoid life-threatening weather,” he continued. “It’s going to go faster possibly than you are.”
Here is the latest tracking map from Wunderground –
This is a developing story. Our prayers are with those in the Hurricane’s path.