Irma, a deadly hurricane the size of Texas, is expected to make landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday before moving up the Gulf Coast on a course for Tampa Bay.
Strong wind gusts and outer rain bands were already beginning to reach Florida’s southern tip Saturday morning, but all parts of the state will feel the effects of the storm.
As Irma passed the northern coast of Cuba early Saturday, the Category 3 storm’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 125 mph, but a “restrengthening” fueled by warm waters around the Keys is expected, according to the‘s 11 a.m. (ET) update.
In addition to the hurricane warnings, storm surge watches and warnings are in effect and indicate the danger of life-threatening conditions from rising water moving inland from shoreline.
At least 24 people are known to have died in Irma’s churn across the Caribbean.
The following watches and warnings are in effect for Florida:
Hurricane Warning (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected)
Fernandina Beach southward around the Florida peninsula to the Aucilla River; Florida Keys; Lake Okeechobee; Florida Bay; Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Matanzas, and Havana; Andros Island, Bimini and Grand Bahama
Hurricane Watch (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible)
North of Fernandina Beach to Edisto Beach; West of the Aucilla River to Indian Pass; Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas
Tropical Storm Warning (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph are expected)
Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas
Tropical Storm Watch
North of Edisto Beach to South Santee River; West of Indian Pass to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line
Storm Surge Warning
Volusia/Brevard County line southward around the Florida peninsula to the Suwanee River; Florida Keys; Tampa Bay
Storm Surge Watch
North of the Volusia/Brevard County line to the Isle of Palms, South Carolina; North of the Suwanee River to Ochlockonee River
Follow along for updates (all times EDT):
12 p.m. Evacuations up to 7 million
Florida emergency management officials have asked another 700,000 to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma. That brings the total number asked to evacuate multiple states to nearly 7 million.
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management said Saturday that officials have issued a mix of mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders to 6.3 million residents. The number rose overnight as the predicted…