Hurricane Irma latest: State of emergency declared as 'life-threatening' Category 4 storm set to batter US

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Florida has declared a state of emergency as America braces itself for Hurricane Irma, which is growing into a powerful Category 4 storm that poses a “serious threat” to the East Coast.

The “life-threatening storm” is on course to hit the US this weekend – just a fortnight after Hurricane Harvey caused flooding chaos in Texas with more than 30 dead and billions of pounds worth of damage.

Florida residents, fearing the worst, rushed to stock up with provisions and hurricane watches were posted for parts of the Caribbean, including Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands. 

Winds as strong as 140 mph were being predicted and the storm could dump as much as 10 inches of rain, leading to landslides, flash floods and waves of up to 23 feet.

Declaring a state of emergency, Florida Governor Rick Scott said: “Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared. 

“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,” he added. 

The storm was upgraded to a category 4 yesterday. But it’s still possible that Florida could be spared if the hurricane moves out into the Atlantic and by-passes the state altogether.

“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of Harvey,” said US meteorologist Evan Myers.


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