Powerful Hurricane to slam Florida

Saturday, Hurricane Irma hit Cuba and then deflected towards Florida. Located about 225 miles south of Miami, its maximum sustained winds decreased to 130 mph though the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had forecasted its strengthening post leaving Cuba and as it approaches Florida. While it is expected to hit the Florida Keys, southwest Florida and Tampa on Sunday, its effect can reverberate through the entire state. Saturday, Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen made a statement that despite skipping the core of Irma, Miami would get life-threatening hurricane conditions. Refuting previous reports stating the storm to hit southern Florida, forecasters now speak of the damaging winds going towards the southern part of the state encompassing Key Biscayne, Coral Gables and South Miami. The latest predictions forecast it moving through Florida's Gulf Coast by Monday.

The storm might hit the Keys on Sunday morning and reach the state's southwest coast by noon. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has asked residents in western Florida to evacuate by 12 pm ET Saturday. Otherwise, they would have to be responsible for their lives. Many residents decided to remain in their homes and ride out the storm. Following the footsteps of Irma in the Caribbean is Hurricane Jose with Category 5 strength thereby increasing the threat of further damage to already devastated small Caribbean islands.

Meanwhile on late Friday, Hurricane Katia north of Tecolutla, Mexico but later weakened to a mere tropical storm with speed of 45 mph. Irma had Category 5 strength late Friday but reduced to Category 4 hurricane while heading towards Cuba. As Hurricane Jose raged through St. Maarten, Dutch marines dropped flyers via a helicopter to warn stuck residents of St. Maarten to move to shelters. The tourist resort areas of the island nation's northern coast of Cuba suffered under Irma.

The storm surge warnings for Florida's west coast have been extended by the hurricane advisory center to northward from Anclote River to Chassahowitzka. A storm watch has been activated for north of Fernandina Beach to Altamaha Sound till later Saturday and extending to portions of the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina as well as Florida Gulf Coast. The epicenter of the storm will reach the north coast of Cuba on Saturday and Florida Keys on Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, it would reach near the southwest coast of Florida. The storm lost its strength slightly as it hit Cuba's terrain but it may strengthen while reaching the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon.

Simultaneously, the Environmental Protection Agency's with over a dozen staff is working to help secure some of the nation's most contaminated toxic waste sites from Hurricane Irma in Florida. The Florida keys might receive about 10 to 20 inches of rain while southern Florida might be hit by a few isolated tornadoes during the weekend.

After surveying six of the 54 Superfund sites in Florida before Irma arrived, The Associated Press's journalists found minor issues. There were three unsecured, steel drums with contaminated water and soil lying in a grassy field.

January 16, 2022 - 18:59
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