USA – FACEMAGAZINE WORLD NEWS
Millions of people huddled in shelters or battened-down homes in Florida on Sunday morning as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, hit the state with 130-mph (210 kph) winds.
The National Hurricane Center forecast potentially deadly storm surges – water driven ashore by the winds – of up to 15 feet (4.6 m) along some parts of the coast. As the storm made landfall on the Florida Keys archipelago off the tip of southern Florida, torrential rains and lashing winds knocked out power to nearly 800,000 homes and businesses on the mainland, according to utilities.
“Pray for us,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in an ABC News interview as his state braced for the massive storm, which has already left a trail of destruction through the Caribbean.
Irma, which prompted one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous U.S. state, a major tourism hub, with an economy comprising about 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
Irma was a Category 4 hurricane raging in the lower Florida Keys as of 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), on a path that will take it up Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast near population centers including Tampa and St. Petersburg, the NHC reported. Forecasters also warned tornadoes could form in large portions of the state.