An AFP reporter said the deafening gusts of the wind were sweeping the province’s main city Caribbean.
Waves as high as 23 feet were recorded, according to Cuban authorities.
Irma will likely make landfall as a Category 4 storm. Hours earlier Friday, it was a Category 4. And even though Irma weakened when it raked the Cuban coast and islands, it’s expected to get its strength back over the ultra-toasty Florida Straits and hit the Sunshine State as a risky Category 4 storm.
More than a quarter of Florida’s population was ordered to evacuate-about 6.4 million people.
The group were forced to ride out the storm overnight in a kitchen pantry after they were unable to evacuate before the storm hit Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference last night, he said: “If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely unsafe storm at your own risk”.
“You will not survive all this storm surge”, Gov. Scott said Saturday.
“You can’t survive these storm surges.You’ve got to get out”.
Look for Irma to hit the lower Florida Keys on Sunday morning, the southwest coast of Florida on Sunday afternoon and the Tampa region on Sunday night into Monday morning, said National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen. It is moving northwest at only 9km/h.
Though the projected path of the storm has changed and many Floridians have already evacuated from the southern part of the state, the National Weather Service warned on Saturday that much of Florida and the southeast will still experience life-threatening winds regardless of which way the storm ultimately moves, meaning that people who have already evacuated areas that were originally in the projected path of the storm should not return to their homes.
“Hurricane warnings extended northward along the Florida peninsula”, the agency announced.
Irma made landfall on the island’s Camaguey Archipelago late Friday. The storm is already a behemoth: Its winds pack almost 100 terajoules of energy – more than the atomic bomb released over Hiroshima, if it were continuously exploding.
Following the storm, some residents described looting and said people were walking around with machetes to cut trees down. Irma is so large that even if the eye is to the west, Southeast Florida will get risky winds and water.
– Of the 24 deaths blamed on Irma, nine were in unspecified French territories, one in Barbuda, one in the British overseas territory of Anguilla, two in Dutch-administered St. Maarten, four in the British Virgin Islands, four in the US Virgin Islands and three in Puerto Rico. The warning includes the Keys, Lake Okeechobee and Florida Bay.
“Storm surge is the most risky part of any hurricane threat”, Norman said, adding that the danger grows as the water begins to destroy structures on land. The islands are heavily dependent on tourism to sustain their economies.
Irma is starting to spin up funnel clouds and at least one tornado, leading to warnings for parts of South Florida. “The message has been clear: The Keys are going to be impacted”.
Storm clouds are seen over Fisher Island as Hurricane Irma approaches on September 9, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida.
The forecast calls for tropical storm force winds Monday morning until Monday night with 30 to 40 miles per hour winds and gusts up to 55 miles per hour.
Florida is not the only state preparing for possible impact.
Officials said they had received calls from about 265 Canadians across numerous Caribbean islands requesting consular help, adding that number is expected to rise as Irma reaches Florida.
The public notice at Friday on Hurricane Irma pulled no punches. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimates reconstruction will cost $US100m.
One person is known to have died on the island of 1,600 residents, apparently a child whose family was trying to get to safer ground.