Hurricane Irma strengthens back into a Category 4 storm

Hurricane Irma strengthens back into a Category 4 storm

The weather service said Irma will bring "life-threatening wind impacts" to most of Florida.

On Barbuda, a coral island rising a mere 125 feet above sea level, authorities ordered an evacuation of all 1,400 people to neighboring Antigua.

"But I think it's really early to talk about some of these islands since we're still waiting to re-establish communications with partners in a few cases", Lovell said. "Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe ... you still have time to evacuate".

But that soon changed.

On Saturday, a hurricane warning was again in effect for Barbuda, CNN reported, as Jose was expected to slam into the island in the afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 150 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Flights between Southern California and Florida were cancelled Saturday, as the southeast state prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Irma.

An Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane, the first to fly into Jose, found that the storm is "much stronger than previously estimated", the National Hurricane Center said. Now it has around 3 million people.

The new course threatened everything from Tampa Bay's bustling twin cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg to Naples' mansion- and yacht-lined canals, Sun City Center's retirement homes, and Sanibel Island's shell-filled beaches.

On its current forecast track, Hurricane Jose is expected to pass close to or just east of the northern Leeward Islands on Saturday afternoon. Worries grew over the weekend about the city's massive construction cranes, which are created to withstand wind at 145 miles per hour (233 kilometers per hour) but could see gusts north of 180 mph (290 km/h).

"There's a tremendous spirit of cooperation and collaboration among hospitals that extends to state and federal agencies", said Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association.

"All of America continues, I must say, to pray for families affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, which looks like it's going to be a really bad one", he said, referring to an earlier hurricane that struck Texas in August.

Hurricane Irma

About 5.6 million people in Florida - more than one-quarter of the state's population - have been ordered to leave, and another 540,000 have been ordered out on the Georgia coast. Motorists heading inland from the Tampa area were allowed to drive on the shoulders.

- Before Irma hit Cuba, it had slammed the Turks and Caicos, and southeastern Bahamas.

More than 1,100 police, military officials and others were deployed to St Martin and the nearby French Caribbean territory of St Barts, where they used helicopters to identify the cars of people looting stores and homes.

At least four people were killed in the US Virgin Islands, officials told AFP. The streets emptied and shops were boarded up before the wind started to howl. "We're all from Alberta, used to blizzards, but had never experienced anything of that calibre", she said.

The governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 30,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were on standby.

Attractions such as Disney World have shut their gates in preparation for the storm. The Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports shut down, and those in Orlando and Tampa planned to do the same later in the day.

Irma is the most intense hurricane in the Atlantic over the past decade. The damage in Florida totaled $26 billion, and at least 40 people died.

But because the storm is 350 to 400 miles wide, the entire Florida peninsula was exposed. "Everybody's going to feel this one".

Actor Robert De Niro is a principal in the Paradise Found Nobu Resort in Barbuda with Australian billionaire media mogul James Packer, People magazine reported, and he said he will help the island rebuild.

Lush reported from St. Petersburg.

U.S. demands crippling new N Korea sanctions
It believes the system's radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance. However, the main provider of the North's oil, China, is likely to oppose such a restriction in the U.N.

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