Havana braced for floods after Hurricane Irma rakes Cuban keys

Havana braced for floods after Hurricane Irma rakes Cuban keys

Authorities kept storm warnings in effect across vast swathes of the Florida peninsular, where more than six million people had been ordered to flee - one of the biggest evacuations in United States history.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said there were almost 1 million customers without power in Miami-Dade County alone.

Hurricane Irma lashed the Gulf Coast of Florida flooding streets and swaying skyscrapers in Miami.

As photos and videos taken from the various scenes of the storms show, however, Hurricane Irma has brought ferocious winds and the potential for catastrophic storm surges with it.

Hurricane Irma has regained strength as it begins pummeling Florida, threatening nearly the entire southeastern USA state after leaving a deadly path of destruction across the Caribbean islands.

As Hurricane Irma makes landfall on the western part of Florida, with winds reaching 130mph, you would think taking a selfie would be the last thing on your mind.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for much of West and South Florida, which means the center believes risky conditions are imminent. "Life-threatening storm surge expected in the Florida Keys and the wet coast of Florida".

"It is not expected that the St. Lucie nuclear power plant will be shut down as result of Irma, though we will closely monitor the changing weather conditions", the utility said.

Irma is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous US state, a major tourism hub with an economy comprising about 5 percent of USA gross domestic product. "We have to keep on".

"Irma is a large hurricane and will produce far-reaching effects regardless of where the exact center of the storm moves". The storm is expected to spread to other states, with 540,000 Georgians ordered to leave and states of emergency declared in Alabama, North Carolina, and SC.

With sustained winds at 120 miles per hour, Irma slowly began turning from Cuba's northern coast up into the Florida Strait on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Dozens of coastal towns were damaged, with some reports of collapsed houses, though no deaths had been reported. The hurricane struck Miami with huge force, causing widespread flooding across the city.

Building off the tongue-and-cheek of their "don't shoot" tweet, the Pasco Sheriff's office took a more serious tone on urging Twitter users to instead volunteer their time at evacuation shelters.

"A shallow slope will potentially produce a greater storm surge than a steep shelf", said NOAA.

Cuban officials say Hurricane Irma has damaged crops in the rural eastern part of the country, as the clean-up begins in the wake of the damaging storm.

As of 2100 AEST, the hurricane was centred about 25km south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and was moving northwest at 13km/h.

In Antigua and Barbuda, Arthur Nibbs, minister of Barbuda Affairs who was on Barbuda when Irma hit, said it was the worst storm he'd ever seen.

There's also a chance that coastal areas of Gorgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, will be affected by Irma.

"We're all hanging in there", he said, "ready to get out there to help others as soon as it's safe to do so".

But privately, you may be wondering (and you wouldn't be alone): "What is a storm surge?"

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