“If you live in any evacuation zones and you’re still at home, leave!” Scott warned Floridians at a news conference Thursday. “Do not try to ride out this storm … we can’t save you once the storm hits.”

At least 500,000 people in South Florida now face evacuation orders, Fox News reports.

Scott said that regardless of their location, people should be ready to get out. The governor noted that Florida’s western coast “will still have hurricane conditions.”

Hurricane Irma is located about 40 miles south of Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos, and about 135 miles east of Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. ET advisory. The storm is headed west-northwest at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the NHC.

Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties are all now under a hurricane watch, which is issued 48 hours in advance by the National Hurricane Center. The watch means hurricane conditions will be possible within the next two days in the specified area, and residents should prepare accordingly.

The National Hurricane Center said hurricane-force winds extended 50 miles from Irma’s center and tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles. Irma has killed at least 13 people as it has tore through the Caribbean, including three deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Irma will have major hurricane impacts,” Scott said, adding they should be expected along Florida’s east coast. The Florida Keys should expect effects from the storm Friday night, he said.

“Look at the size of this storm. It is wider than our entire state,” Scott said. “Every Floridian should take this serious and protect your family.”

Gov. Scott said he’s activated 4,000 members of the National Guard in Florida, and all 7,000 will be deployed on Friday.

Further up Florida’s coast, officials in Flagler County issued voluntary evacuations for coastal areas, while Brevard County in the Space Coast area issued a mandatory evacuation order for the barrier islands, Merritt Island and some mainland low-lying areas along the Indian River Lagoon

“Those who live in mobile or manufactured homes or in other flood-prone areas are also vulnerable and should evacuate whether on the mainland or the barrier islands,” county spokesman Don Walker said.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas and Matanzas.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince
* Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, and Las Tunas

A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-
threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the
coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.
For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather
Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected
somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and
property should be rushed to completion.

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible
within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours
before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force
winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are
expected somewhere within the warning area.

Interests elsewhere in Cuba and Florida should monitor the progress
of Irma.

For storm information specific to your area in the United States,
including possible inland watches and warnings, please monitor
products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast
office. For storm information specific to your area outside the
United States, please monitor products issued by your national
meteorological service.

At 800 PM EDT (0000 UTC), the eye of Hurricane Irma was located by
an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft near latitude 21.1
North, longitude 71.8 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest
near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this general motion is expected to
continue for the next couple of days with some decrease in forward
speed. On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to
move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and toward the southeastern
Bahamas this evening. The core of the hurricane will then move
between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day
or two.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher
gusts. Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely
during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a
powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from
the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185
miles (295 km).

The minimum central pressure based on data from the Air Force plane
is 919 mb (27.14 inches).


STORM SURGE: The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the
tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by
rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water is
expected to reach the following HEIGHTS ABOVE GROUND if the peak
surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach, including Florida Keys…5 to 10 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of
onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and
destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative
timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over
short distances. For information specific to your area, please see
products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking
waves will raise water levels ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS by the
following amounts within the hurricane warning area near and to the
north of the center of Irma. Near the coast, the surge will be
accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
Southeastern and central Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
Northwestern Bahamas…5 to 10 ft
Northern coast of the Dominican Republic…3 to 5 ft
Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft
Northern coast of Cuba in the warning area…5 to 10 ft

WIND: Hurricane conditions are expected to continue within the
hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic and Haiti tonight.
Hurricane conditions are occurring on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are beginning in the
southeastern Bahamas and will spread into the central Bahamas by
tonight or early Friday. Hurricane conditions are expected within
the hurricane warning area along the north coast of Cuba late
Friday and Saturday. Hurricane conditions are expected in the
northwestern Bahamas Friday night and Saturday.

Hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area in Florida
by Sunday, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Saturday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain
accumulations through Saturday evening:

Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands…
additional 1 to 2 inches
Much of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos…8 to 12 inches, isolated
20 inches
Andros Island and Bimini, Bahamas…12 to 16 inches, isolated 25
Northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti…4 to 10 inches,
isolated 15 inches
Southern Dominican Republic and southern Haiti…2 to 5 inches
Eastern and central Cuba…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
Southeast Florida and the upper Florida Keys…8 to 12 inches,
isolated 20 inches
Lower Florida Keys…2 to 5 inches

In all areas this rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods
and mudslides.

SURF: Swells generated by Irma are affecting Puerto Rico, the
Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos
Islands, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and should
start affecting portions of the southeast coast of the United States
later today and tonight. These swells are likely to cause
life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult
products from your local weather office.


God Bless.

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