Hurricane Irma arrived Sunday in Florida’s Ke West Island, whose residents fled at night from wind and raging sea after the announcement of the ultimatum.
The cyclone hit Key West, the southernmost state of Florida, with winds of 215 kilometers per hour, according to the US Hurricane Center.
The typhoon, which has killed at least 25 people in the Caribbean since Wednesday, reached Cuba on Saturday, causing flooding in the capital Havana, as well as massive destruction in the central and eastern part of the country, but no official deaths have been recorded so far.
Hurricane Irma’s strength rose to the fourth grade before arriving in Key West, threatening Hurricane Florida, the US Hurricane Center said.
The center expected the hurricane to pass the Lower Keys archipelago in southern Florida and head for “near or along” the west coast of Florida, warning of waves up to 4.6 meters high enough to flood an entire house.
Hundreds of thousands of Florida residents hid in shelters or fled north. About 6.3 million people, or more than a quarter of the state’s population, received orders to evacuate.