Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the state as Hurricane Irma inches closer to the U.S. mainland.
“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” Scott said. “I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Hurricane Irma and current forecast models have Florida in Irma’s path – potentially impacting millions of Floridians.”
Irma is packing winds in excess of 130 mph as it heads for key islands in the Caribbean.
Earlier Monday, Irma was a Category 3 but was upgraded to a Category 4 during the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. advisory.
Changes in the storm’s structure will cause fluctuations in the intensity of the storm.
The storm's center is 490 miles (790 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands late Monday afternoon. It has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) and is moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).
Emergency officials are warning that Irma could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods, and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as it draws closer.
A hurricane warning has been issued for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten and St. Barts.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the British and U.S. Virgin islands and Guadeloupe.
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