Irma struck Camaguey Archipelago with 160 mph winds early on Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, after upgrading the storm late on Friday to its most powerful classification.
Irma, one of the fiercest Atlantic storms in a century, was expected to hit Florida on Sunday morning, bringing massive damage from wind and flooding to the fourth-largest state by population.
The scenes along Cuba’s north central coast were gradually coming to resemble the horrors of those of other Caribbean islands over the last week as Irma barreled in for a direct hit at Ciego de Avila province around midnight.
Choppy seas, grey skies, sheets of rain, bending palm trees, huge waves crashing over sea walls and downed power lines filled state-run television’s evening news cast.
Irma was forecast to bring dangerous storm surges of up to 10 feet (3 meters) to parts of Cuba's northern coast and the central and northwestern Bahamas.
A total of 5.6 million people, or 25 percent of the state's population, were ordered to evacuate Florida, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
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