Hurricane Irma returns to category 5 as Florida landfall imminent

Updated 2017-09-09 17:00:35 Xinhua

Hurricane Irma has strengthened to category 5 hurricane as it prepares to make landfall in Florida, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Friday evening.

The hurricane is currently located less than 485 km southeast of Miami, Florida and is moving toward the continent at a speed of 20 km/h.

Its maximum sustained wind speed is 260 km/h, just above the 253 km/h bar for category 5 hurricanes.

Irma weakened to a category 4 hurricane Friday morning after tearing through a few Caribbean islands, but picked up momentum again as it crossed the water between the islands and the continent.

According to projections, the hurricane will sweep through the entire state of Florida in the following days before entering Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

Local authorities have issued mandatory evacuation orders for all or part of the three southernmost counties in Florida, but some residents have decided to stay and ride out the storm.

Gas and water have largely dried up as locals scrambled to stock up, and flights out of Miami International Airport have been mostly canceled.

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