Hurricane Irma’s winds have started whipping Florida as the storm spins on a new track that puts Tampa — not Miami — in its crosshairs. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Saturday that Irma is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. […]
Hurricane Irma shifts course, threatening Tampa — live updates
Hurricane Irma’s winds have started whipping Florida as the storm spins on a new track that puts Tampa — not Miami — in its crosshairs.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Saturday that Irma is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to pick strength back up as it moves away from Cuba and toward the Florida Keys.
The storm’s center was about 115 miles southeast of Key West, Florida, as of 5 p.m.
Meteorologists say damaging winds from Irma’s outer bands were already arriving in South Florida. The storm was expected to reach the Florida Keys on Sunday morning before moving up the state’s Gulf Coast.
Follow along below for live updates on the storm. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.
5:53 p.m.: Toxic waste sites in likely storm path
Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida while dozens of personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency worked to secure some of the nation’s most contaminated toxic waste sites. The agency said its employees evacuated personnel, secured equipment and safeguarded hazardous materials in anticipation of storm surges and heavy rains.
The Associated Press surveyed six of the 54 Superfund sites in Florida before Irma’s arrival, all around Miami in low-lying, flood-prone areas. There was no apparent work going on at the sites AP visited this past week.
The EPA said that if there was no activity, a site should be considered secured but would be closely monitored. The sites were in various stages of federally directed, long-term cleanup efforts.
Read the full story here.
5:44 p.m.: Trump holds Cabinet meeting at Camp David
President Trump met with Vice President Mike Pence and his cabinet at Camp David in Maryland Saturday afternoon, discussing the projected path of Irma. The meeting was closed to the press, although the White House released three images from the 2 p.m. meeting. The White House did not say what other topics the meeting touched upon, although an earlier statement from a White House official said the cabinet would also discuss administration priorities in addition to Irma and continued fallout from Hurricane Harvey.
So far, Mr. Trump has spent three weekends at Camp David since taking office, according to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
5:05 p.m.: Irma’s eye begins to move away from Cuba
Weather is deteriorating in South Florida as Irma’s center continues to slowly drift away from Cuba and move toward the Florida Keys. As of 5 p.m., the National Hurricane Center says the system is moving west-northwest at 9 mph, with the center located 115 miles south of Key West.
The center says “major hurricane force winds” will arrive in the Keys by Sunday morning.
4:22 p.m.: Thousands stuck in lines outside shelters
With Hurricane Irma taking aim at Florida’s southwestern coast, thousands of desperate and frustrated people waited in line for hours Saturday to get inside a shelter — a minor league hockey arena — in hopes of avoiding the storm’s wrath.
Dogs barked and children cried in a line that wrapped halfway around the 8,400-seat Germain Arena before snaking through the parking lot. Ambulance sirens drowned out the chatter as medics assisted people overcome by the 84-degree heat.
More than 50,000 people statewide sought refuge at over 400 shelters, mostly schools, community centers and churches, but few if any scenes matched what happened just outside the city of Naples.
3:42 p.m.: Video shows waves in Key West
The U.S. Navy posted this video of waves crashing on shore in Key West:
3:22 p.m.: Correspondent David Begnaud heading to Tampa as Irma looms
CBS News correspondent David Begnaud was 10 miles east of Tampa on Florida’s I-4 corridor Saturday afternoon, traveling to the city now in the path of Irma. Vehicles packed with belongings were bumper-to-bumper and driving 20 to 25 mph as they evacuated the city, headed toward Miami. Members of the National Guard used the shoulder of the highway to pass through the long lines of traffic on Saturday.
Gov. Rick Scott is urging residents on the eastern part of the state not to return home even if they think their home is in the clear. The storm’s path could shift within the next 12 hours, though it looks like the western part of the state will bear the brunt of the hurricane.
Begnaud says every rest stop along the evacuation route on I-95 and the Florida Turnpike had groceries and fuel.
You can follow Begnaud on Twitter as he rides out the storm in Tampa at @DavidBegnaud.
2:52 p.m.: Collier County officials give an update on preparations for Irma
Officials from Collier County, which includes Naples, are briefing reporters with the latest developments. Watch live in the player at the top of this article.
2:02 p.m.: Irma continues to linger over Cuba
The National Hurricane Center says Irma’s wind speed remains at 125 mph as of 2 p.m. It’s continuing to move along the Cuban coast at 9 mph, and is now about 145 miles southeast of Key West.
1:21 p.m.: Irma shifts course, heading toward Tampa and Naples
Irma is on a shifting course that is turning it away from Miami and instead threatening the first direct hit on the Tampa area from a major hurricane in nearly a century.
That represented a significant turn in the forecast, which for days had made it look as if the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people was going to get slammed head-on by the Big One.
Forecasters predicted Irma’s center would blow ashore Sunday in the perilously low-lying Florida Keys, then hit southwestern Florida, move up the state’s Gulf Coast and plow into the Tampa Bay area.
The storm center itself is expected to miss Miami, but the metro area will still get pounded with life-threatening hurricane winds, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
12:38 p.m.: Florida governor: Irma “the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen”
Florida’s governor is issuing urgent warnings to a third of his state’s residents to evacuate ahead of a massive hurricane on track to be the state’s most catastrophic ever.
Gov. Rick Scott says the entire west coast of Florida will likely see dangerous affects from storm surge as Hurricane Irma comes ashore Sunday. About 6.3 million of the state’s approximately 21 million residents have been asked to evacuate.
During a Saturday news conference, he told those in evacuation zones: “You need to leave — not tonight, not in an hour, right now”
Scott said that the storm surge is expected to be up to 15 feet in some areas along the west coast of Florida. In the Tampa Bay area, Scott said the storm surge could be between 5 feet and 8 feet.
Scott said: “This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.”
12:26 p.m.: Possible tornado moving towards Everglades City, National Weather Service says
12:18 p.m.: Thousands without power in South Florida
There have been more than 30,000 power outages in Miami-Dade County and 1,870 in Broward County, according to the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL).
More than 3 million customers could be affected by power outages during Hurricane Irma.
FPL spokeswoman Florencia Contesse told CBS Miami the company is ready for whatever Hurricane Irma may bring. She said they specifically train for situations like this and have prepared crews and equipment.
“We’ve set up more than 20 staging sites across the state. These essentially serve as mini-cities where we have our workers, our equipment, our trucks, so we can quickly get out into the community and restore service,” Contesse told the station.
12:11 p.m.: Florida asks 700,000 more people to evacuate, bringing total to 6.3 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 Gov. Rick Scott 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 path of Hurricane Irma has shifted west. It’s likely to come ashore Sunday.
The size and trajectory of the storm has prompted officials to order evacuations along both coasts of Florida, including some of the state’s population centers. Florida is the nation’s third largest state with nearly 21 million residents.
Another 540,000 have been asked to evacuate in the eastern part of Georgia.
In South Carolina, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for eight barrier islands. That includes Hilton Head Island, the most populous of the islands with about 40,000 residents.
11:51 a.m.: The eye of the storm, as seen from a plane
Capt. Phil Blancher from the Air Force Reserve’s hurricane hunters captured this view of Irma’s eye while flying into the storm on Friday:
11:22 a.m.: South Florida cities impose curfews
Local governments are now issuing curfews across South Florida, CBS Miami reports.
Broward County has issued a curfew starting at 4:00 pm and remains in effect until further notice.
“When winds reach 45 mph, deputies will not be responding,” Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said. Effects of the storm will get stronger throughout the day. “By 2 p.m., residents will start feeling tropical storm force winds.”
A mandatory curfew will also be in place tonight in Coral Springs from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. A barrier island curfew will be in effect for the city of Deerfield Beach and the town of Hillsboro Beach at noon. A citywide curfew will be announced later this afternoon.
Check CBS Miami for the latest curfews.
11:12 a.m.: At least 51,000 people move to shelters in Florida
Florida emergency management officials say at least 51,000 residents have hunkered down in approximately 300 shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Most of those staying in shelters are in southeast Florida, which initially looked to be the main target of the storm before the forecast shifted west. More than 15,000 people are in shelters in Palm Beach County while neighboring Broward County has nearly 13,000 people.