Hurricane Irma is now a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 185 MPH.
The storm, which is the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record, could move near South Florida on Saturday.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency statewide in response to the storm. A mandatory evacuation is in effect for the Florida Keys. Video taken in south Florida showed long lines at gas stations and grocery stores.
An evacuation is also in effect for Puerto Rico. In a statement, Governor Ricardo Rossello urged citizens to cooperate with the relocation and warned that those who refuse to move to a shelter, or the safe house of a relative or friend, could be evicted from their residences to preserve their safety under a law.
Nitz says Irma is a major storm that will intensify over the next 5 days.
2 different models show Irma moving north near the Georgia coast early next week. Much can change, but we need to watch this very carefully! pic.twitter.com/SsXN8TYHsA— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) September 4, 2017
Irma is expected to impact the northeastern Leeward Islands by the middle of this week as a major hurricane, accompanied by dangerous wind, storm surge, and rainfall impacts, along with rough surf and rip currents.
Hurricane watches have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands and additional hurricane or tropical storm watches may be required. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of Irma and listen to advice given by officials.
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According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is expected to remain a dangerous major hurricane through the upcoming week and could directly affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas.
Residents in all of these areas should monitor the progress of Irma and listen to advice given by officials. Tropical storm or hurricane watches could be issued for the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday.
The National Guard and Puerto Rico police will begin to evacuate flood-prone areas in the north and east of the island starting Wednesday.
It is too early to determine what direct impacts Irma might have on the continental United States.
Regardless, everyone in hurricane-prone areas should ensure that they have their hurricane plan in place, as we are now near the peak of the season.
The Savannah College of Art and Design has postponed the start of its fall quarter for one week because of the impending storm.
"Due to the magnitude of the storm and the uncertainty of Hurricane Irma's path, SCAD will postpone the start of classes for Savannah, Atlanta and eLearning for one week," the school said Tuesday.
Delta Airlines released the following statement on Hurricane Irma:
"Due to Hurricane Irma, travel to/from/through the cities below might be impacted. Check flight status frequently for up-to-the-minute info about your flight plans, or get updates sent directly to your mobile device or by email with One Time Flight Notification.
If you wish to cancel your trip as a result of a flight cancellation or significant delay (90 minutes or more), you are entitled to a refund for the unused portion of your ticket. Even if your flight is not canceled, you may make a one-time change to your ticket without fee if you are scheduled to travel to, from, or through the following destination(s) on Delta, Delta Connection®, or Delta-coded flights during the specified time periods listed below.
You may contact Reservations Sales to make changes to your itinerary. Additional collection in fares may apply. See Conditions & Restrictions below."
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