Please verify

Watch LIVE

Hurricane Irma ‘potentially catastrophic,’ National Hurricane Center warns

A sand seawall is placed in front of the hotel KKO, as part of the preparations for Hurricane Irma on Tuesday on the beach in Orient Bay, on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin. Irma strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane, meteorologists warned, with tiny tourist islands first in line for possible devastation as it barreled toward the Caribbean. Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin islands, both popular holiday destinations, are expected to be hard hit. (Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images)

The National Hurricane Center warned Tuesday that Hurricane Irma is "potentially catastrophic" as the Category 5 storm gathered strength, traveling toward the Caribbean and Florida.

The NHC said the storm could be life-threatening in the Leeward Islands and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization also anticipated dangerous conditions in Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Cuba.

“Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area,” the group said.

The NHC also warned that the storm could impact Florida, although it is still “too early” to be certain about its impact on the continental United States.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) declared a state of emergency in all of Florida’s 67 counties in advance of the storm, his office said Tuesday. He also activated the Florida National Guard and suspended tolls on highways across the entire state.

“In preparation for the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma, I have directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend all tolls across the State of Florida to keep traffic flowing,” Scott said in a statement. “They will be suspended for the duration of the storm’s impacts to Florida. Ensuring the safety of Florida families and visitors is our top priority and suspending tolls statewide will help people quickly evacuate and make it easier for all Floridians to access important hurricane supplies to ensure they are fully prepared.”

“We are continuing to closely monitor the developments of Hurricane Irma and will continue to take aggressive action to keep our state safe,” Scott said.

The National Weather Service’s Miami branch shared some tips on how to prepare for a hurricane, including having access to enough drinking water and medications.

The Gulf region of the United States is still recovering from last month's Hurricane Harvey.

Most recent
All Articles