IRMA: What you need to know

Hurricane Irma is a 185-mph storm as it sweeps across the Carribean islands, according to the 11 a.m. Wednesday update.

We're keeping tabs on the very latest Hurricane Irma news and notes. We're posting information as it comes in.

 

8:55 p.m.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered to the areas bordering the coast of Miami Dade County. 

Monroe County has also issued mandatory evacuations for residents starting this evening.

Gov. Rick Scott has activated a total of 1,000 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to support with planning, logistics and operations in preparation for potential impacts from Hurricane Irma. These members are stationing across the state and actively assisting with preparation efforts.

The remaining 6,000 National Guard members will be reporting for duty no later than Friday morning. Additional guard members will continue to be activated this week as needed.

7:40 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn't apologizing for trying to get people to be concerned about Hurricane Irma.
 
The Republican governor said, "I'm not downplaying it, I believe this is a risk."
 
During several media appearances during the day Scott emphasized that Hurricane Irma was bigger and stronger than Hurricane Andrew, which caused massive destruction in South Florida in 1992. He strongly urged people to evacuate if asked to do so by local officials.
 
In the past, Scott has dodged questions on whether climate change is caused by humans, saying that he's "not a scientist."
 

2 p.m.

Hurricane Irma remains a 185-mph storm as its core passes the British Virgin Islands. 

1:45 p.m.

Before you hit the highway in case you have to evacuate, check Florida's 511 map for the latest road conditions.

1 p.m.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke about preparations for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson announced Thursday's city council meeting is canceled.

Noon

Several school closings are coming in prior to impacts from Hurricane Irma:

-Pinellas County Schools will close Thursday and Friday

-Pasco and Polk County schools are closed Friday

-Sarasota County Schools are closed Friday

There is a running list of these closures and more in our school-closings story.

10:30 a.m.

Hurricane Irma’s looming arrival has forced the NFL to reschedule the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins opening-week game.

The new game between the two teams is set for Nov. 19, when the two teams share a bye week. The Dolphins will host the Bucs at Hard Rock Stadium.

10 a.m.

Florida U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson held a joint news conference to address the public ahead of potential impacts from Hurricane Irma.

9:45 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott advises Florida residents to take Hurricane Irma seriously -- make your preparations and be aggressive in protecting your family. 

An additional 900 Florida National Guard members have been activated to respond to the storm, bringing the total to 1,000 members.

The Florida Keys will go under a mandatory evacuation for all residents tonight. An evacuation is underway for all visitors now.

Watch: Gov. Rick Scott updates on Hurricane Irma preparation

8:30 a.m.

Know your zone: if an evacuation order is issued for your area, do you know where to go and which zone you are inside? The Florida Division of Emergency Management has handy maps available.

8 a.m.

The eye of Hurricane Irma is passing over St. Martin. Winds are still at 185 mph.

Irma is headed toward Puerto Rico.

7 a.m.

As Hurricane Irma continues to roar across the Caribbean on a path toward Florida, a new tropical storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Katia formed early Wednesday off the coast of Mexico.

Katia is not expected to have an impact on the U.S.

Tropical Storm Jose is forecast to become a hurricane late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Jose is located east of Hurricane Irma, and formed as a tropical storm in the open Atlantic on Tuesday. The tropical storm is still thousands of miles from land.

6:30 a.m.

If Hurricane Irma makes a significant hit to Puerto Rico, officials say it could be several months before power is fully restored.

Watch: Puerto Rico bracing for Hurricane Irma

5 a.m.

Irma maintained its Category 5 strength at 185 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, advisory. It is moving west-northwest at 16 mph and was located 35 miles east-southeast of St. Martin.

3 a.m.

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says his government has ordered a mandatory evacuation of islands in the southern part of the island chain because of Hurricane Irma.

Minnis says the Category 5 storm poses a dire threat to the islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

Watch: Bahamas to evacuate islands in path of Hurricane Irma

People who live on the islands will be flown Wednesday to Nassau on the island of New Providence. Minnis says it will be the largest hurricane evacuation in the history of the Bahamas.

People who don't evacuate will be at "great danger" from storm surge caused by what he called a "monster" hurricane. Minnis says emergency personnel may not be available to rescue them when the storm is at its height between Thursday and Friday.

 

2:10 a.m.

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean.

The National Weather Service said the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 1:47 a.m. Residents said over local radio that phone lines went down as the eye passed.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma was maintaining Category 5 strength with sustained winds near 185 mph (295 kmh) and heading west-northwest on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.

 

Editor's Note: Information from the Associated Press is used in this story.

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