In a plea for Florida residents to seek safe shelter now as conditions worsen with looming Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott warns the hurricane is “a deadly storm and our state has never seen anything like it.”
“Once the storm starts, law enforcement cannot save you,” Scott said.
Winds and storm surge will intensify across southern Florida into Sunday morning as powerful Hurricane Irma approaches the Florida Keys. Irma is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane just east of Key West around 8 a.m. Sunday.
Ferocious winds will not only knock out power for days, and possibly weeks in some areas, but also threaten catastrophic damage. Gusts of 100-160 mph will blast southern Florida.
In total, 7 million people were urged to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, which is the largest evacuation in United States history. Nearly 6.3 million people have been asked to evacuate Florida, which is more than 30 percent of the state's population.
A state of emergency has been declared in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
Click here to see previous reports of how Florida is preparing for Irma.
10:22 p.m. EDT Saturday: Hurricane-force winds are beginning to pound the Florida Keys as Irma approaches. The hurricane is expected to make landfall, possibly as a Category 4 storm, just east of Key West around 8 a.m. EDT Sunday.
9:55 EDT Saturday: As Hurricane Irma’s strong and dangerous winds intensify in South Florida, some law enforcement agencies are beginning to send officers and emergency personnel to safety until winds calm down.
9:41 p.m. EDT Saturday: It’s possible that power outages resulting from Hurricane Irma will be “extremely broad and probably long lived,” according to FEMA Director Brock Long.
Florida Power and Light estimated that the powerful hurricane could leave about 3.4 million of its customers without electricity during the storm, according to CNN.
More than 72,000 people are currently without power in Florida as of 9 p.m. EDT, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
7:50 p.m. EDT Saturday: Tampa International Airport has officially closed as Irma approaches and closes in on Florida.
According CBS News, to 9,900 flights were canceled so far at airports in Hurricane Irma’s path.
6:44 p.m. EDT Saturday: A possible tornado was spotted in Oakland Park, Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale.
More than 80,000 power outages are being reported by Florida Power & Light.
6:20 p.m. EDT Saturday: President Donald Trump urges everyone to heed all warnings, because Hurricane Irma is a storm with tremendous power.
There is a blowout tide in Long Island, Bahamas. Strong east winds from Irma are blowing water away from the coast and causing areas that normally are under seawater to be dry.
"It’s likely flooding on the other side of that island as Irma’s winds cause water to pile up along the shore," AccuWeather Meteorologist Frank Strait said.
These strong east winds are forcing seawater to pile up along the east coast of Florida, which is leading to some flooding.