Live Feed of Hurrican Irma Coverage
MIRAMAR, Fla. ― Hurricane Irma made landfall in the lower Florida Keys Sunday morning, unleashing severe winds and storm surges on its path toward the state’s west coast.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the hurricane made landfall on Cudjoe Key a little after 9 am. Top sustained winds reached 130 mph.
Irma was bearing down on Florida as a dangerous Category 4 storm, leaving more than a million customers without power and threatening extreme weather throughout the state. Though Irma had initially been predicted to hit Miami hardest, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and other areas along Florida’s west coast were expected to bear the brunt of the storm later Sunday and Monday.
The sheriff’s office for Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, said on Saturday that one man had died in a car crash during the storm. At least 22 people in the Caribbean lost their lives and thousands have been displaced. Nearly 7 million people from several U.S. states in the storm’s path were told to evacuate their homes, according to the Associated Press.
In Miramar, Florida, which is about 25 miles northwest of Miami, shelters were packed Saturday with people seeking safety, but across the area there was relative calm. Families who sought refuge in the town’s hotels sat in the lobbies playing games with their children to keep their minds off what might happen back at their homes.
Miramar and many other areas in Florida were virtual ghost towns over the weekend, with stores and restaurants closed and no gasoline available at stations.
In Miami, streets and beaches were deserted. Forecasts originally said the storm would directly hit the city, but Irma took a westward turn. Miami is still expected to see life-threatening winds.
Areas in southwestern Florida are also at risk of severe coastal flooding due to a predicted storm surge, which in some places could be more than 15 feet above ground, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose was passing well north of Puerto Rico on Sunday after having been upgraded to a Category 4 storm the day before. It was expected to lose strength in the coming days.
Travis Waldron and Sebastian Murdock contributed reporting from Florida. Lydia O’Connor, Hayley Miller, Hilary Hanson, Carla Herreria and Lee Moran also contributed to this report.