hurricane

Updated at 8 a.m. ET Friday

Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricanes ever recorded, and its wind speeds remain about 150 miles per hour, with stronger gusts. As this monster churns through the Caribbean and heads toward Florida, here is the lowdown.

How dangerous is it?

When you're building a zoo disaster plan, there's one thing to keep in mind: Murphy's law. Anything that could go wrong, will.

Just ask the flock of flamingos that weathered Hurricane Andrew in a public restroom at Zoo Miami in 1992.

Or, you could ask the zoo personnel across the coast who've been running emergency drills since the start of hurricane season.

National Hurricane Center

Updated at 8:15 p.m.

Hurricane Irma continues ripping a path through the Caribbean towards Florida as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 175 mph, according to the 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Evacuation orders have been issued across South Florida: Monroe County is under complete evacuation orders; Miami-Dade County Zones A, B, C are under evacuation orders; Broward County east of U.S. 1 is under evacuation orders; Palm Beach County Zones A, B, C are also under evacuation orders.

Joey Flechas / Miami Herald

Eugene Johnson purchased two loaves of bread and batteries for his flashlight. Those are his supplies in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

“I’m on fixed income,” said Johnson. “This hit me out of the blue. I had to pay my rent, my electricity bill and stuff like that.”

In his kitchen cabinet he already had a few cans of tuna and he plans to boils some eggs.

Johnson, 65, lives in an affordable housing complex in Miami and, like many of his neighbors who are also on fixed or limited income, he doesn’t own a car.

David Adame / AP

Miami police intends to involuntarily commit homeless individuals starting Friday if they refuse to move off the streets. Volunteer outreach teams through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust began placing individuals in shelters Tuesday morning and will continue those efforts through Thursday.

“By Friday morning it is my intention, those individuals who refuse to leave the streets for various reasons--almost all of which are mental health and or substance abuse-related--I would be moving to have those individuals Baker Acted,” said Ron Book, chairman of the Homeless Trust.

Rinsy Xieng / Twitter

While South Florida watches Hurricane Irma’s dangerous approach, the record storm already began tearing through the Caribbean Wednesday morning. But Irma’s path across the basin could help limit its destruction there.

The first to feel Irma’s fierce Category 5 winds were the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. Gusts were clocked at 155 miles per hour at Antigua and Barbuda. Still, the storm’s center passed to the north, and officials said the island nation emerged better than expected.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making preparations in the state for Hurricane Irma.

“FEMA is pre-positioning people and supplies to be able to come in right after the hurricane,” Nelson said Wednesday at a press conference at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center.

But due to the recovery from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the agency is set to run out of funds soon without an emergency funding authorization.

“If they don’t get it by Friday, they’re out of money,” Nelson said.

Kate Stein

An informal “emergency operations center” serving Miami-Dade and Broward counties is offering help for low-income, disabled and elderly people -- and it's seeking volunteers.

The Miami Climate Alliance, the CLEO Institute and the New Florida Majority are coordinating the grassroots effort to help people prepare for the storm and its aftermath. They’re taking calls and deploying volunteers to help board up windows and make other hurricane preparations. They’re also accepting donations of hurricane supplies.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

By all accounts, Hurricane Irma is a behemoth, a "potentially catastrophic" storm bearing 185-mph winds and the threat of devastation for the islands caught in its northwesterly course toward Florida. That threat packed an added wallop Wednesday for Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory already reeling from billions in debt.

Updated 3:20 a.m. ET Thursday

France's Interior minister says Hurricane Irma has killed at least eight people and left 23 injured on French Caribbean island territories. The Associated Press reports:

Speaking on French radio France Info, Gerard Collomb said the death toll in Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy could be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish their inspection of the islands. Collomb said Thursday: "The reconnaissance will really start at daybreak."

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

With the whole state on alert from Hurricane Irma, it is important to know common hurricane terminology. The most important, and yet confusing, of which is the difference between a hurricane watch and warning.

In the simplest terms, if you are living in a county under a hurricane warning, you can expect hurricane conditions to affect your area. Whereas, if your county is under a hurricane watch, hurricane conditions are possible.

Keys Hospitals Begin To Evacuate As State Braces For Hurricane Irma

Sep 6, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians on Tuesday that powerful Hurricane Irma will start impacting the state by the end of the week — it's just not clear where.

Hurricane Irma's looming arrival is already preventing the Miami Dolphins and Florida International from hosting their respective home openers this weekend, with more changes almost certain to happen in the coming days.

The Dolphins were scheduled to host to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon; FIU was to host Alcorn State on Saturday night. Officials decided on Tuesday that neither of those games will be played in South Florida, though they may be played elsewhere this weekend.

National Hurricane Center

Updated at 8:05 p.m.

The catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma continues to batter the Caribbean and head towards South Florida and Miami-Dade County has issued voluntary evacuation orders for the City of Miami Beach and Zones A and B (you can find your zones here).

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma's eye passed over the northernmost Virgin Islands this afternoon and hurricane watches could be issued in the Florida Keys and the mainland as soon as Thursday.

Here's A Reminder Of What You Need In Case Of Hurricane

Sep 5, 2017
FPREN / Courtesy

It's been 12 years since the last major hurricane hit South Florida, so we'd like to help you find and dust off your hurricane supplies.

It's best to buy and prep now to avoid long lines and stores running out of stock.

Here's what you need in a disaster supply kit:

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