Hurricane Irma As It Happened: Category 5 Storm Hits Cuba and Approaches Florida

Hurricane Irma
In this NOAA handout image, NOAA's GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it moves toward the Florida Coast in the Caribbean Sea taken at 03:30 UTC on September 7. NOAA GOES Project via Getty
  • Hurricane Irma made landfall in northern Cuba late Friday.
  • Florida authorities went door-to-door warning residents of the approaching storm, with northbound highways jammed with people evacuating. About 5.6 million people have been ordered to evacuate.
  • "You will not survive all this storm surge. This is a life-threatening situation," said Florida Governor Rick Scott, as he urged residents to flee the storm.
  • The storm regained Category 5 strength, slamming Cuba with 160 mph winds. It was then downgraded to a Category 4, then 3, but is expected to pick up strength again before hitting the U.S..
  • With the eye of the storm 275 miles southeast of Miami early Saturday, Hurricane Irma is inching toward Florida, and is expected to hit South Florida and Florida Keys early Sunday.
  • The storm has claimed 24 lives, as before it hit Cuba, it had slammed the Turks and Caicos, and southeastern Bahamas.
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The Miami skyline is seen as the outer bands of Hurricane Irma start to reach Florida, on September 9. Florida is in the path of the hurricane, which may come ashore as Category 4. Getty Images

Update: 11.59 a.m. ET - That concludes Newsweek's morning coverage of Hurricane Irma, as it devastated Cuba and moved closer to the Florida coast. For the latest coverage of the storm and its aftermath visit Newsweek.com.

Update: 11:44 a.m. ET - Footage from the Florida coast shows weather getting worse as the storm approaches, with wind speeds picking up and rain becoming heavier.

Winds staring to pick up and become more steady, clouds overhead steaming by in #KeyWest #Irma pic.twitter.com/YKPVpW3yp6

— Mike Theiss (@MikeTheiss) September 9, 2017

Wind and rain picking up a bit along US1 and SW 328th in #Homestead @nbc6 pic.twitter.com/PPd9NYWzCT

— Amanda Plasencia (@AmandaNBC6) September 9, 2017

Update: 11.00 a.m. ET - Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, but it is expected to intensify during the day.

The storm currently has wind speeds of 125mph as it pounds Cuba's northern coastline, with storm swells submerging towns.

Irma has submerged the town of Caibarien, Cuba under several feet of water. pic.twitter.com/qz4QwNdYak

— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) September 9, 2017

Update: 9.49 a.m. ET - Florida Governor Rick Scott is speaking now in Sarasota, Florida.

"If you have been ordered to be evacuated, leave now. Not tonight, right now. Once the storm hits, remember law enforcement can't safe you ... We will do everything we can, but we can't do it once the storm starts," he said.

"I urge everyone to check on your neighbors, your families and your friends."

"You will not survive the storm surge...if you're in an evacuation zone, leave," Gov. Rick Scott warns Floridians https://t.co/4Oy8HjMgoM

— CNN (@CNN) September 9, 2017

Update: 9:11 a.m. ET - Footage is emerging from Miami Saturday morning, where the outer bands of the hurricane are lashing the downtown area with wind and rain.

BLOWING IN: Outer rain band from #HurricaneIrma whips into downtown Miami. Looking south. #Fox35 pic.twitter.com/gF7D9b56Fp

— DNail (@DerrolNail) September 9, 2017

Update: 8:22 a.m. ET - With rumors abounding as Florida braces for the impact of the storm, FEMA has put together a useful list debunking false claims.

The rumor that all hotels are obliged to accommodate pets and other animals belonging to those fleeing the storm is false, however emergency shelters are obliged to accomodate pets.

Romors of high demand for fuel are true, with the agency advising those escaping the storm "to only take the amount of fuel that you need to get your destination."

We created an #Irma rumor control page to help you verify what’s true and what’s not. Visit it here: https://t.co/nnXuF8Q7E8 pic.twitter.com/ypNwNRlOM0

— FEMA (@fema) September 8, 2017

Update: 7:13 a.m. ET - As the storm approaches the U.S., Newsweek has listed the livefeeds where you can watch the storm as it hits the Florida coast and beyond.

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People stand by the sea in the rain in the La Cienaga neighborhood on September 7, 2017, as Hurricane Irma approaches. Irma was packing maximum sustained winds of up to 185 mph (295 kph) as it followed a projected path that would see it hit the northern edges of the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Thursday, continuing past eastern Cuba before veering north for Florida. Getty

Update: 6:54 a.m. ET - Hurricane Irma will cost at least $1.44 billion in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, a French public reinsurance body said Saturday as cited by Reuters.

The hurricane hit the Caribbean islands earlier in the week, and France's director of public safety Jacques Witkowski said Saturday "there are 1,100 people, both civilian and military, deployed on the islands" to help with recovery, Associated Press reported.

Latest #HuricaneIrma photos from #SaintMartin, by @Chamiphoto @AFPphoto, are terrifying.

See more: https://t.co/mYdg8RA9LW pic.twitter.com/tD2pedCSyj

— David Sim (@davidsim) September 8, 2017

Update: 6:35 a.m. ET - Devastated by Hurricane Irma earlier in the week, the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda is bracing itself for its second storm in days with Hurricane Jose expected to hit Saturday afternoon.

The Category 4 hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, with residents who did not flee earlier being evacuated by a flotilla of vessels.

Landing at Barbuda airport -- last few people desperate to get out as hurricane Jose approaches pic.twitter.com/8PTHvAoU25

— alex thomson (@alextomo) September 9, 2017

Update: 6:26 a.m. ET - Incredible footage taken by the Hurricane Hunters shows the eye of the storm as it moved towards Cuba Friday.

Incredible view of #hurricaneirma from #ReserveCitizenAirmen Capt. Phil Blancher. @USAFReserve Hurricane Hunters will fly 'til landfall. pic.twitter.com/Fi7ngJSjli

— Hurricane Hunters (@53rdWRS) September 8, 2017

Update: 6:06 a.m. ET - Despite urgent evacuation advice from authorities Friday, the Miami Herald reported that some locals in Florida coastal towns where the storm is expected to make landfall early Sunday are refusing to budge.

"I'm born and raised here. I'd much rather stay here when I know the landscape and where people are hunkering down," Key West resident Liz told the publication, with the storm expected to cause a 30 foot storm surge.

Webcam footage from the town shows worsening conditions as the storm nears.

Key West Harbor Web Cam.
By @PTZtv#Irma #FloridaKeys
C/c: @ecazatormentashttps://t.co/LU5kRZnste pic.twitter.com/kh2pxGklkE

— Joseba Zarraga (@josebazarraga) September 9, 2017

Update: 5:45 a.m. ET - All flights at Miami International Airport are grounded Saturday and Sunday as the storm approaches. Pictures show the airport terminals usually filled with weekend travelers eerily quiet Friday night, after the last scheduled flights departed.

The calm before the storm... ready for #HurricaneIrma. pic.twitter.com/8Xta8ZtPD9

— Miami Int'l Airport (@iflymia) September 9, 2017

Pictures from Friday evening also show Miami's deserted streets, with thousands of residents having evacuated the city on official advice.

Miami is a ghost town. #hurricanirma pic.twitter.com/6T3z5k8z0l

— Sebastian Murdock (@SebastianMurdoc) September 8, 2017

Update: 5:27 a.m. ET - Hurricane Irma has weakened and been downgraded back to a Category 4 storm as it moved over Cuba's Camaguey archipelago, with maximum sustained wind speeds slowing to 155 mph.

Hurricane #Irma back down to strong Category 4 strength now...but not by much - only 2mph. Mountains of Cuba have messed with storm a bit. pic.twitter.com/ktCENk0UxZ

— Josh Johns (@JoshJohnsWx) September 9, 2017

Update: 5:10 a.m. ET - Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has overnight issued a state of emergency declaration as Hurricane Irma approaches, with the storm expected to hit the state late in the weekend and early next week.

Alabama State of Emergency Declaration from @GovernorKayIvey #alwx #valleywx pic.twitter.com/EoS1JpLHxI

— Jason Simpson (@simpsonwhnt) September 8, 2017

Update: 5:02 a.m. ET - Patrick Oppmann, CNN's Cuba correspondent, is tweeting live from the country as it is battered by the hurricane, which made landfall late Friday.

He said the storm was so strong it broke Cuban meteorological equipment that measures wind speed.

Pitch dark and the wind screaming. What a night.

— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) September 9, 2017

Cat 5 Irma battering Cuba right now, watching waves roll down street I walked yesterday.

— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) September 9, 2017

Flood waters surround house me and my team are in & going up. Will be here for a while.

— Patrick Oppmann CNN (@CNN_Oppmann) September 9, 2017

Update: 4:27 a.m. ET - Here is the latest National Hurricane Center advisory for those in the path of the storm as it approaches the Florida coast, including storm surge and rainfall estimates.

Key Messages for #Hurricane #Irma Advisory 40. More: https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/sKiFe4go5s

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 9, 2017