Irma's Path Shifts to Florida's Southwest Coast, Catastrophic Storm Surge Expected

Irma's Path Shifts to Florida's Southwest Coast, Catastrophic Storm Surge Expected

Leading up to its back-to-back landfalls in the Florida Keys and on Marco Island, several twists of fortune eased the pain the storm inflicted on the state.

Lastly, when the storm track shifted to Florida's west side, knowing exactly where the storm would come ashore - which had massive implications - couldn't be pinned down.

The facetious tweet from the Sheriff's office was prompted by a Facebook event titled "Shoot at Hurricane Irma", that over 25,000 people RSVP'd to.

Irma edged closer to Florida on Saturday after killing 24 people in the Caribbean islands earlier this week.

And only slight deviations would have made the storm's outcome much more severe.

Irma is located about 40 miles south-southeast of Key West, FL, moving northwest at 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Two Tampa Bay residents told Sky News today that they have chosen to stay in their home to "protect elderly neighbours and drink beer".

While she's scared, she said, they've stocked up on food, water, medication, batteries, flashlights and cell phone chargers.

"The big takeaway for Jose, is that it's threatening the same islands that have just been hit by Irma", he said. "It just stings every time one of these gusts comes through".

Irma was a powerful Category 5 storm Friday night when it swept into northern Cuba before making a turn for Florida, where it's expected to hammer the state with whipping winds, heavy rain and powerful surges.

"We know this is a day our new moms and dads and staff will never forget", the hospital said in a statement.

"I appreciate the job the league did in addressing the situation and the position Georgia Tech took in supporting this change", Miami athletic director Blake James said.

"We will do everything we can, but we can't do it once the storm starts".

The storm slammed into Cudjoe Key around 9 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph after gaining strength in the Atlantic overnight, according to the National Hurricane Center. The warnings are in effect for 36 hours over Saturday and Sunday.

Wearing a baseball cap and waterproof jacket, the curious storm-watcher appears to be unaware of the danger he is in.

If the right-front quadrant had instead targeted Miami, for example, the storm surge disaster would have been unimaginably bad - akin to the worst-case scenario described before the storm. Mass power outages are also expected, with the Florida Power and Light Company estimating that as many as 4 million customers could be affected.

A long line of people in Estero, Florida lined up to enter an arena that officials converted into an evacuation shelter, one of hundreds that have opened up across the state. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, some 200 miles from the sea. During the afternoon, it rounded Florida's southwestern corner and pushed toward Naples, Sanibel, Fort Myers and, beyond that, Sarasota, at 14 mph. Evening curfews have also been ordered by authorities in many areas to encourage residents to feel safe about leaving their homes and belongings behind.

God bless Florida and all of us. Given its size, strength and projected course, it could still prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida.