Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday morning as a powerful Category 4 storm, threatening winds of up to 155 miles per hour and sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.
One storm chaser, meteorologist Juston Drake, got out of his car and “battled” Hurricane Irma’s incredible winds in Florida.
WATCH: A storm chaser battles Hurricane Irma's powerful winds. pic.twitter.com/X5T16VcIup
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 10, 2017
There is also Simon Brewer, known on Twitter as Simon Storm Rider, who is a meteorologist, extreme weather journalist and adventurer featured on The Weather Channel series Storm Riders. Drake is also featured on the show.
Here is another video from Brewer that shows how powerful the winds are:
— Simon Brewer (@SimonStormRider) September 10, 2017
Brewer reported winds of 117 miles per hour on a handheld anemometer, which he said “under samples actual speed; much higher winds.”
Hurricane Irma is currently over the lower Florida Keys.
CNN’s Bill Weird described the conditions in Key Largo, in the Florida Keys, as taking a power washer in the face.
“If you own a power washer… imagine taking it in the face,” CNN reported.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) September 10, 2017
NASA captured incredible imagery as Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys, and you can clearly see the eye, or center, of the storm.
— NASA SPoRT (@NASA_SPoRT) September 10, 2017
The Associated Press reported that more than 1 million Florida utility customers could lose power due to Irma.
Here is a video of flooding in Miami, as seen from a high-rise building:
This hurricane is one of the most powerful ever recorded and remains an extremely dangerous weather system.
Hurricane Irma is twice the size of Hurricane Andrew, which hit in 1992 in Florida and destroyed 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others and caused $26.5 billion in damages.
It’s being estimated that Irma cost could up to $200 billion, and Hurricane Harvey – the powerful storm that recently ravaged and flooded the Houston area of Texas – could cost upwards of $180 billion.
Florida Governor Rick Scott urged residents to get out before the hurricane. “You’ve got to get out; you can’t wait,” he said.
More than 6.5 million Florida residents evacuated in advance of Irma, and there are at least 25 people confirmed dead in the Caribbean after Irma paved a destructive path upon making landfall on the island of Barbuda, which is now reduced to rubble.
Hurricane Irma continued on its rampage through the Caribbean and the Bahamas this week, and now has the state of Florida directly in its crosshairs.
While the path of the storm has changed – initially Irma was projected to go up the east coast, putting the Miami area in great danger – now the storm looks to be shooting up the west coast of the peninsula state, meaning Tampa and St. Petersburg are in danger.
While the storm that boasted winds up to 185 miles per hour was recently downgraded to a Category 4 storm – meaning winds of up to 155 miles per hour – the harsh reality is that Irma will cause destruction regardless of its official designation.
Here is video from NASA of Hurricane Irma making landfall in the Florida Keys:
— ABC News (@ABC) September 10, 2017
Floridians have been bracing for Hurricane Irma since earlier this week, and the images and videos from Irma’s destruction so far are a frightening, sobering warning.
Irma made landfall on the northeast Caribbean island of Barbuda on Sept. 6, and the island is now mostly rubble. The storm then went through St. Martin and the British and U.S. Virgin islands before heading toward Puerto Rico and touching the coasts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Turks & Caicos.
Now it is hitting the Florida Keys with extremely powerful winds.
Mass evacuations of residents took place in south Florida and the Florida Keys. The Navy also evacuated 5,000 personnel stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West.
Highways were backed up for miles as thousands of residents fled the area where Irma is expected to hit first in Florida; gas stations ran out of fuel. Flights were cancelled out of Miami International Airport, but some airlines also offered last-minute flights on Friday. The tension was palpable, and there was even an incident where a knife-wielding man was shot by police when he entered a restricted area and then went on the tarmac at the airport.
The south Florida counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach are home to approximately 6 million people, and mandatory evacuation orders were given for parts of that area, as well as parts of Brevard County and Monroe County, which contains the Florida Keys. School was also cancelled.
This video of the inside of Hurricane Irma is courtesy Maj. Brad Roundtree, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, U.S. Air Force Reserve. The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters will continue to fly until the storm makes landfall, collecting data so the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center can increase the accuracy of its forecasts.
Governor Scott said: “No resource or expense will be spared to protect families.” However, the state is urging those in harm’s way to evacuate or prepare for the worst.