Hurricane Irma is on track to reach southwestern Florida on Sunday morning, with the cities of Key West, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers at highest risk of bearing the storm’s most powerful winds.
The hurricane’s worst winds have a 90 percent chance of tearing through Key West, according to Michael Ventrice, a meteorological scientist with the Weather Channel. Cape Coral and Fort Myers have an 80 percent chance to experience winds of 110 mph and greater.
Hurricane Irma weakened slightly as of Saturday morning because it interacted with Cuba, but the storm is expected to strengthen again as it turns north and moves over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Irma remained a major Category 4 storm on Saturday morning, according to an 8 a.m. advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). Maximum sustained winds decreased to 130 mph, but the hurricane is expected to remain powerful as it approaches Florida.
Water may rise up to 12 feet above sea level in parts of Florida, with the southwestern coastline from Captiva to Cape Sable forecast to fare the worst.
Millions of Florida residents were told to evacuate after the storm killed 21 people in the eastern Caribbean and left devastation in its wake.
Irma is one of the most powerful storms in a century, having broken a number of records as it traversed the Atlantic Ocean westward. It is expected to reach Florida on Sunday morning, Sept. 10.
Florida is likely to experience unprecedented damage from Irma. The state has grown rapidly over the past two decades.
“We are running out of time. If you are in an evacuation zone, you need to go now. This is a catastrophic storm like our state has never seen,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.
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.
President Donald Trump said in a videotaped statement that Irma was “a storm of absolutely historic destructive potential” and called on people to heed the recommendations from government officials and law enforcement. In Palm Beach, Trump’s waterfront Mar-a-Lago estate was ordered evacuated.
Reuters contributed to this report.