Will Irma Hit Fort Lauderdale? The Florida City Is Preparing For The Worst

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Many Americans are still on edge after Hurricane Harvey absolutely devastated many areas near Houston, TX just over a week ago. But just as reconstruction and recovery efforts begin, another powerful hurricane is threatening other prominent U.S. cities as it continues to gain steam near the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Irma is now a Category 5 storm, and while its exact path cannot yet be known, Irma could potentially hit Fort Lauderdale and other areas in Florida. Residents have begun preparing for what could be a "potentially catastrophic" storm.

Hurricane Irma currently has 185 mph wind speeds, and is expected to move through the eastern Caribbean islands towards the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and possibly South Florida over the next few days. But, according to the National Weather Service, the storm's path is not yet set in stone, and it's unclear exactly how much strength it will retain as it makes its way through the Caribbean.

"The chance of direct impacts from Irma later this week and this weekend is increasing in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula," the National Weather Service announced on its Twitter account on Tuesday. "However, it is too soon to specify the timing and magnitude of the impacts."

According to current NWS estimates, many Florida residents could be at risk of heavy winds and rainfall from the storm as early as Friday, and could continue to experience the storm's effects throughout the weekend until Monday. While it is possible that Irma could veer off of its projected course, or lose steam by the time it reaches Florida, local and national officials are taking no chances when it comes to preparing for the potentiaslly catastrophic event.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday, urging residents to "remain vigilant" and start making an emergency plan for themselves and their families.

“Our state emergency management officials are working with our federal and local partners to prepare for any potential impacts from this dangerous storm,” Scott said. “It is crucial that we have access to every available resource to protect our families and communities.”

Local officials in Fort Lauderdale and other nearby areas have already begun planning for the best and most effective ways to keep residents safe. According to the Sun-Sentinel, officials will meet on Wednesday to determine when to open shelters, close local schools, and order mandatory evacuations for certain at-risk areas.

Given the devastation the United States has just seen as a result of Hurricane Harvey, it will be important for residents and officials to do whatever they can to keep people safe as Irma approaches. While the exact path of the storm is not yet certain, Fort Lauderdale and other areas in South Florida are certainly preparing for the worst.